People who read a lot are often what I call “word people”. They love words, their meanings, their histories, their connotations, even, sometimes, the sounds of them. I am no exception. When someone recommends a book with the title Aleph as in the case of the book by Paulo Coelho, the title attracts me without even knowing what the story is about. Aleph is name of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the Arabic alphabet, and, also, the Aramaic alphabet. In this case the Aleph is also a “spiritual world, in a parallel universe, where time and space are eternal and always present”. It is when you find yourself, temporarily, at a nexus of your personal time and space.
There are people who spend their lives looking for “spiritual enlightenment” of one kind or another, and Aleph is a book that would appeal to this group of people. Mr. Coelho explains that he has become too comfortable with his life in his South American home. His “spiritual teacher”, “J” suggests travelling. Mr. Coelho realizes that he is still trying to solve a puzzle from a past life so he decides to open himself up to travel. He commits himself to a number of book signings and after parties and eventually commits to a trip across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. He has been warned to watch out for a Turkish woman, and feels that he has avoided that possibility by travelling in Russia, until he meets Hilal.
This type of book is not really my cup of tea but it was a quick read so I finished it. The idea of making a physical journey and having it turn into a spiritual journey is certainly not new and some of life’s greatest lesson are probably learned when we leave our comfort zone. However, I am not totally convinced of the truth of past life regression, or of having to make up in the present for things done in a past life. Despite my personal reactions, people who do follow a “spiritual” path may find Aleph quite interesting. Meanwhile I did enjoy learning a new word and this rather esoteric aspect of its meaning.
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I will give Paulo Coelho another chance. His book The Alchemist is still on my list and has been called a “modern classic”. I plan to read it along with my long list of other titles.