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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2007
Although "The Pilgrimage" is not Paulo Coelho's most exalted work, it is still a wonderful plunge into the mystical journey. In this book, he chronicles his own experiences on the road to Santiago de Compostela in the region of Galicia known as Celtic Spain. The journey is rich with allegory reflecting how we must face our own fears in order to engage in what he calls "the good fight". The Pilgrimage is reminiscent of Carlos Castañeda's apprenticeship with his mentor Don Juan. Paulo's guide is the enigmatic Petrus, who teaches him to face his own limitations and to break him from the "modernist" notion that our busy work is more important than exploring our inner world. There is a sweet discovery about the book that brings presence to a wisdom that includes mystical exercises worthy of our attention.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2009
Having read most of Coelho's books, this is, in spiritual content, not the most profound.
He mainly appears as a man driven by the material satisfactions of a spiritual quest, and hence the book tends to dwell on aims- the sword, and 'spiritual' exercises, which are actually mainly visualisation techniques used by people who are on an occult path. This may not be coincidence, since Coelho's background has been with the Occult and Magic.
These exercises whether literary props or not,have their deeper meaning treated quite superficially, and ones gets the impression that a few simple exercises will somehow help launch someone down a path of spiritual 'achievements'. He himself effortlessly performs these tasks conjuring his personal Daemon to be his temporal adviser and performs numerous other exercise with equal ease as he makes his way down the 'Jacobean' road. As with all of his books i think there are explicit spiritual lessons he is giving, of real value, but these are sometimes lost in the descriptions of New Age speak and concepts.

As a story it is a great read, the road story representing life and there are some fascinating moments. He does have a wonderful sense of the magical. Its a lovely book to read and I would well recommend it. I feel however that Coelho's deeper and more insightful works come in his later books, where he himself perhaps has matured spiritually and dropped some of the Spiritual egoism he has, which is often quite clear in this book through his attitude to his journey. The end of the story is profound and i think based on real revelation and this is a fine moment in the book of real worth to the reader.
I do think that this book, like quite a few of Coelho's works often escape serious scrutiny because of the sense of excitement he generates, e.g with The Alchemist, and this impedes useful criticism. It is not a coincidence on his Blog that he takes a very keen interest in obtaining serious commentary from his readership on numerous aspects of each book, from plot to style to character development.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2014
I found this book in a charity shop and for £2 I could not resist. Having read one other of Coelho's books I figured this one might be along the same lines of philosophy, spirituality and in general finding meaning in your own life.

I think from reading just two books of his, one recurring theme is adventure, and this is his hook, mixing a good amount of adventure with depth and meaning. It's like some of the 'Hollywood' action movies that are just stunt after stunt and big name actor after big name actor, compared to say a more independent low budget, thought out well scripted feature. One example would be NEED FOR SPEED vs BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (do your research - I'd say this book and all his other books are the latter).

The adventure starts a little confusing and leaves you with a lot of questions, that slowly get answered as you progress through the first few chapters, but as with Coelho's style, he slowly builds a definite picture of the who, why, where and when.

As the main character walks his quest, he is also walking his own inner path of wisdom with the help of his guide and friend Petrus. I think we are all looking for our own inner path, we are all probably on our own inner path, and the signs to this wisdom are right in front of us, as this book tries to point this very simple fact out and gives you an idea of what to look out for.

There's a good amount of spiritual teaching in this book, mixed with witty philosophy and religion. More specifically Christianity, this is or was clearly Coelho's choice in religion I think, Christianity is a theme that is prevalent throughout the book, but he doesn't lay it down too thick. Still within the more religious aspects can be found great meaning and understanding as well as excellent lessons to take away and apply in your life. After all any form of religion is just another metaphor for understanding life.

One notion I took away from this was what is described as 'The Good Fight'. You should read the book and find your own understanding of this, but for me this was the icing on the cake. Knowing what your good fight is and knowing what you plan to do when you have won your good fight. These are the two main questions he asks you to ask yourself.

Life is a journey, and we have to make this journey as thrilling and as meaningful as possible. Not to just sail by and lay in the sun, but to steer your sails to new lands and new experiences, what this book tries to do is to get you to think about where you want to sail and why you want to sail there.

All in all a great read, highly recommended for just about anyone. At any stage in their life. Children and adults alike.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 1999
I discovered this book during my first journey on the road to Compostela in 1991. All the young Spaniards had a copy in their back pack. The author created a New Age delirium giving the path to Compostela an image of witchcraft and the occult. During my three journeys on the road to Compostela ( 91 95 96) I happened to have met some of the key characters the author mentions in this book, and they were very unhappy with the author's version of the Compostela experience as well as with the use of their life. I disliked how the pilgrim gives up the road for a bus ride at the end of the book, which is a "sacrilage" once you enter such an experience.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 1998
See my previous review below. Reading the Pilgrimage inspired me to follow the same route, known as the Camino de Santiago this summer. (In fact I finished the 850kms yesterday and I am typing these words from an internet cafe in Santiago de Compostela)
I was the 18th South African to have done the pilgrimage in the last decade or so - for the introduction to the camino I will always be grateful to Paulo Coehlo. I have had the time of my life and in a sense it was the first step of the greater pilgrimage of my life.
I met many many Brazilians on my pilgrimage (after Spaniards it seems Brazilians are the most common pilgrims to encounter) and most of them said that Paulo did not really walk the camino - he did parts but mostly he drove in a landrover. This was "confirmed" by some of the Spanish hospitaleros who run the pilgrims refuges along the way.
Not that I have a problem with that in itself - its just a book after all - I gues I just dont understand why, if in fact he did not walk all the way, he wrote the book in such an autobiographical manner?
So if you are reading this Paulo, did you slog the 850kms or was it all bogus?
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Whenever I read Paulo Coelho, I feel I ought to be embarking upon a journey. But every time it seems that the trip merely revisits itself and, in the end, I always feel I am back where I started. Now it is just possible that this might just be the point, if point there be.

Surely, then, The Pilgrimage might have taken me somewhere. Obviously it is the story of a journey, and not just any journey. The author becomes a pilgrim and walks - well, almost - the length of the road to Santiago de Compostela. He starts in the French, nay French-Basque Pyrenees. He and his guide - I hesitate to use the word master, with a capital M, that Paulo Coelho employs - spend several days going round in circles. This surely is a premonition of what is to follow. In his eagerness to achieve an end, Paulo doesn't notice the lack of progress. His guide tells him he is too eager to reach his goal, that he should recognise the value of experience along the way. It's the only way to avoid self-deception. Perhaps that's the point. Paulo takes the advice he is offered and eventually spiritual revelations reveal themselves.

The book lists several exercises for the reader to follow. You can find your Master, learn how to Breathe, feel your Blue Balls and utilise the Capital Letter, sometimes. And though I may have an idea about what Christianity might be, I declare no understanding whatsoever of what the Tradition might involve, despite the fact that it and the achievement of its apparently all-important Sword dominate the book. I was none the wiser at the end, but the advice offered that one should not sit on one's Sword will be remembered.

Paulo Coelho is a gifted writer and devotees flock to read his books in their multiple millions. What they find there is, perhaps, what he found on his journey to Santiago, which is probably himself, themselves... The process is engaging and enjoyable. It is marginally informative, possible pretentious, but extremely well done. Like the writer, the reader is drawn to the end of the journey and is left, as happens with most things in life, precisely none the wiser, inhabiting the same persona, suffering the same limitations as at the outset. But then we are also perhaps ready to embark upon the next chapter in the ongoing story. Been there. Seen it. Done it. Will repeat. Sound advice.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2002
Having discovered Paolo Coelho's writings by accident, I can never understand why "The Alchemist" is always in the Best Sellers list! I enjoyed The Alchemist as a good, thought provoking book, but for me The Pilgrimage reaches a far higher spiritual level. It has inspired me to walk El Camino one day when i get the chance - but inside I am already walking it! One of the few books I have read twice within the space of a year!
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on 21 May 2012
I am interested in walking the way to Santaigo BUT this book could put me off - to think others walking might be like this author.

He acknowledges he is involved in (black?) magic, sorcery and is ostensibly something to do with a sort of masonic group in Brazil. He also gets entangled with the Knights Templars.

I am not sure how much is fact and how much is fiction/make-believe. Could it be a satire like "Animal Farm" possibly against Christian pilgrimages to Santiago? Or might the author be slightly insane?

It is NOT a Christian book at all. I understand the author is world-renown for charitable work and is a humanist.

It was loaned to me by an elderly lady who got it second-hand as she was interested in Santiago and its pilgrimages, but she could not understand it.

A weird book that is far from wonderful.
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on 3 January 2015
This is my first Paulo Coelho I've read, and am pretty sure it will be my last! I wanted to like this book but nothing about it gripped me.

I found the writing to be average, at best, and there was nothing within that made me want to keep reading on.

If you are looking for a book about the camino de Santiago, much better books are out there. If you are looking for spiritual guidance, better books exist. Likewise, if you want hints and tips for meditation or mindfulness look elsewhere.

This book is an unfortunate mix of these three subject matters and fails to deal with either one of them adequately.

Also, i'm pretty sure the advice he gives regarding hurting yourself whenever you think a bad thought has been warned against by councillors and psychologists.
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I read this book for the first time ten years ago or so. Since that moment my life has changed for the better. I recently purchased this version of the book to keep as the words contained inside are so special to me.

Since reading the book life has led me along a path that has many good times, and also many bad times, but the journey has been exhilarating.

Read with a open mind and translate the symbolism in your mind. you will not be disappointed.
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