Aleph is based on Coelho’s travel on Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok.
The story can be read as travel story, obviously, but you would be disappointed if you expect traditional travel book. The real theme seems to be reincarnation and redemption.
I enjoy the idea of reincarnation, but the necessity of redeeming the mistakes in previous lives?
It isn’t what you did in the past that will affect the present. It’s what you do in the present that will redeem the past and thereby change the future.
But we shouldn’t be put off. As Coelho mentioned, this was a very personal journey, which he did not intend to write a book about. He said he wasn’t sure how to explain.
Maybe I should take back what I said earlier. Maybe the book is purely about travel experience. Travel means differently to everyone.
After weeks on the road, listening to a language you don’t understand, using a currency whose value you don’t comprehend, walking down streets you’ve never walked down before, you discover that your old “I," along with everything you ever learned, is absolutely no use at all in the face of those new challenges, and you begin to realize that buried deep in your unconscious mind there is someone much more interesting and adventurous and more open to the world and to new experiences.
It does not matter what you are seeking at this point in life. For Coelho, it was spiritual redemption. Aleph is telling you that you might find the answer on the road.
More memorable quotes.
Our life is a constant journey, from birth to death. The landscape changes, the people change, our needs change, but the train keeps moving. Life is the train, not the station. And what you’re doing now isn’t traveling, it’s just changing countries, which is completely different.
When a sense of dissatisfaction persists, that means it was placed there by God for one reason only: you need to change everything and move forward.
She believed in the impossible and, for that reason, won a battle that everyone, including myself, considered to be lost. That is what marks out the warrior: the knowledge that willpower and courage are not the same thing. Courage can attract fear and adulation, but willpower requires patience and commitment.
“No one is a prophet in his own land.” We always tend to value what comes from afar, never recognizing the beauty around us.