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P. Arul Jothi Dr .B.Beneson Thilagar Chritadoss Ph.D.,

Research Scholar Associate Professor
Department of English Department of English
St. John’s College, St.John’s College
Palayamkottai Palayamkottai

The Pilgrimage is an Exploration of self-discovery of the Unknown

The present paper aims to study and to analyze the novel The Pilgrimage was written
by Paulo Coelho. It is a self-discovery of the unknown. From the beginning of the human
history, human life is viewed as a quest in search of one thing or the other. Traveling on a
pilgrimage is a powerful tool for self-discovery and transformation. The process of
discovering the sacred sword on the Strange Road to Santiago, at last Paulo find himself and
attain the spiritual growth, because at the heart of the Pilgrimage is the belief that in every
journey lies the difficult and beautiful discovery of oneself.

Keywords: Journey, Discovery, Transformation, Strive for Unknown, Spiritual.

Discovering of own individuality, finding oneself, is simply a discovery that is found

through the journey of life. Everyone wants to make a difference - to live a life of valuable
contribution and the start of that is to realize that human potential has no limits. Human
beings have great amounts of creative power trapped within us, applying the individual
strengths, whether it would be through creativity, leadership, or knowledge and all can unlock
that power trapped within us. Paulo’s journey helps him to find out his unknown self.
Paulo Coelho writes at the launch of The Pilgrimage “The great human adventure…is
the adventure of traveling toward the unknown” (15). He is about to journey on the Strange
Road to Santiago in search of his sacred sword. Ultimately, he knows that even if he does not
find his sword, the pilgrimage will enable him to find himself. This paper aims to highlight
diverse excises he encounters during his adventurous journey that he undertakes to find the
sword in Santiago.

The Pilgrimage is a 1987 autobiographical novel by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho.

It is a recollection of Paulo's experiences as he made his way across northern Spain on a
pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It is a story of Coelho’s journey of self-discovery. In
the beginning of this novel, Paulo feels he has successfully completed his training to become
a Master in an ancient and mysterious religious tradition the order of RAM (Regnum Agnus
Mundi - Rigorous Adoration to Mercy).
Paulo has survived many trials and learned many lessons in order to reach the point of
being awarded a new sword: an emblem of his achievement. However, Paulo has failed to
learn one final and very important lesson: what he is to do with his sword. As a result of not
understanding this lesson, Paulo must undertake one final journey. If he does not succeed, he
will not receive his sword and the title of Master. In order to achieve his sword he takes
journey towards Santiago de Compostla. Along the Road he is helped by a guide, Petrus, who
teaches Coelho the RAM exercises that are described and taught by the guide. It helped him
to find out his unknown sword and himself.
In the article of Lourdes: Healing in a Place of Pilgrimage, Gesler describes “A
pilgrimage entails a journey from one place to another, from one aspect of one’s life to
another. As a result of this movement, many people experience pilgrimage as a
transformation.” Growth and transformation are essential and inevitable in any journey,
particularly one that occurs in nature. Paulo’s guide, tells him: ‘When you travel, you
experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth’ (38). Petrus says,
I am going to teach you some exercises and some rituals that are known as the
practices. All of us, at some time in our lives, have made use of at least one of them.
Every one of these practices, without exception, can be discovered by anyone who is
willing to seek them out, with patience and perspicacity, among the lessons that life
itself teaches us. The RAM Practices are so simple that people like you, who are used
to making life too complicated, ascribe little value to them. But it is they that make
people capable of achieving anything, absolutely anything that they desire (28).

Petrus is not guiding him to find out his sword but it is Paulo’s job, solely and
exclusively, to find it. His guide leads him along the Road to Santiago and to teach him the
RAM practices. There are eleven exercises which help him to discover himself and his sword
and also made him to transform and lead him to the unknown. It will help the readers to
uncover themselves and lead them into sacred path.
 The Seed Exercise
 The Speed Exercise
 The Cruelty Exercise

 The Messenger Exercise

 The Water Exercise
 The Blue Spare Exercise
 The Buried Alive Exercise
 The RAM Breathing Exercise
 The Shadows Exercise
 The Listening Exercise
 The Dance Exercise
The Seed Exercise
First, Petrus taught Paulo the Seed Exercise which one imagines for himself or herself
as a seed blossoming into a large, strong tree. Visualizing his growth from seed to tree, Paulo
“discovered that although the earth and my sleep were full of comfort, the life ‘up there’ was
much more beautiful” (31) which will help him to achieve rebirth and get rid of the burdens
he has piled upon himself. The repetition of the exercise for seven consecutive days will
make him perceive that he is a tiny seed, cradled in the comfort of earth.
The Seed exercise allows moving into a growth mindset. Instead of being confined to
old ideas, habits, or jobs, you are an object in motion, a seed that is growing. The benefits of
a growth mindset are limitless, and this serves as the foundation for the rest of your growth. It
helps Paulo to overcome from the past experience because he had intention to find out his
sword early and return to Brazil in order to continue his business. He became to rebirth and a
new person.

The Speed Exercise

The aim of the Speed Exercise advises one to walk for 20 minutes at half the speed
you normally walk. Repeat for seven days. “Changing the way you do routine things allows a
new person to grow inside of you.” (46) As per the advice of Petrus, Paulo repeats the Speed
Exercise regularly with the result that he is now able to calm himself and perceive the things
around him through new eyes. His imagination begins to work to his advantage and makes
him realize that he seldom paid attention to the world around him.
In today’s society, moving fast is the norm. Sometimes, it is so fast that one misses
the beauty, serenity, and inspiration that surrounds at every moment. Slowing down will help
to evaluate what is important, and what to do the next.

The cruelty Exercise


The cruelty Exercise helps Paulo to reduce negative self-talk. Every time a thought
comes to mind that makes feel bad about oneself – jealousy, self-pity, envy, hatred. The
following exercise helps out to get rid of these things.
Dig the nail of your index finger into the cuticle of your thumb on the same hand until
it becomes quite painful. Concentrate on this pain: it is the physical reflection of the suffering
you are experiencing spiritually. Repeat this until the thought subsides. Repeat as necessary,
the cruel thought will take longer and longer to come back, and will eventually disappear
Sometimes we become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this
cruelty against ourselves. Paulo erudite through this exercise, he is now able to calm himself
and perceive the things around him through new sights. His imagination begins to work and
makes him realize that he seldom paid attention to the world around him. This helps to
combat the negative self-talk and shifting inner dialogue from negativity and pessimism
towards positivity and optimism will shape the life.

The Messenger Exercise

Sit down and relax completely. Let your mind wander and your thinking flow without
restraint. After a while, begin to repeat to yourself, ‘Now I am relaxed, and I am in the
deepest kind of sleep. Keeping the fire always to your right, now begin to imagine another
billow of fire to your left. When the flames are lively, say the following words quietly: ‘May
the power of the Lamb, which manifests itself in everything and everyone, manifest itself also
in me when I invoke my messenger. Talk with your messenger, who should appear between
the two fires. Discuss your specific problems, ask for advice, and give him the necessary
Petrus talks of the roles of angel and devil in elevating and spoiling the life of a man.
In the words of Petrus, “The angel always protects us and is a divine gift.” (64) On the other
hand, the devil is a free and rebellious force, a link between the man and the world and hence
is also known as messenger. He is present in our ways of dealing with money and knows a
great deal about the world and human beings. When we become susceptible to his power, he
owns us and keeps us from fighting the good fight, and that is why, as Petrus advises, “the
only way to deal with the messenger is to accept him as a friend by listening to his advice and
asking for his help when necessary, but never allowing him to dictate the rules of the game.”
(64) Acting upon his guide’s advice, Paulo takes the friendship of the messenger as a means
to improve his work and his dealings with the world. To take the help of the messenger in the

time of need, Paulo performs the Messenger Ritual and holds communion with the messenger
in conformity with his guide’s instructions.

The Water Exercise

Petrus taught Paulo the Water Exercise. It means making a puddle of water on a
smooth, non-absorbent surface and looking into the puddle for a while. Then, begin to play
with it, without any particular commitment or objective. Make designs that mean absolutely
‘Call up your intuition again, your secret side. Do not be concerned about logic,
because water is a fluid element, and it does not allow itself to be controlled easily. But
water, little by little and in a nonviolent way, is going to build a new relationship between
you and the universe’ (103). Do this exercise for a week, for at least 10 minutes each time.
Paulo was feeling very calm, and he was more and more aware of the importance of
the Road to Santiago in his life and of the question of what he was going to do after the
pilgrimage have ended. This excises building the intuition and allowing the subconscious to
tackle problems that have been lurking just under conscious perception. Human brain is
always working on the problems, whether you are conscious of this or not. It helps to resolve
the problems.

The Blue Sphere Exercise

Seat yourself comfortably and relax. Try not to think about anything. Feel how good it
is to be alive, to receive breathe. Let your heart feel free and affectionate. Begin to sing a
song from your childhood. Imagine that your heart is growing, filling the room, and then your
home, with an intense, shining blue light.
When you reach this point and the sensation becomes strong, feel that the blue light is
flowing through you, out into the world. Watch as it surrounds your home, your
neighborhood, your city, country, and then the world. Eventually, the world is enveloped in
this blue sphere filled with unconditional love. Hold this image in your head for as long as
possible. This exercise can also be done with more than one person, and individuals should
hold hands if practicing this together.
This is cultivating compassion, forgiveness and love for everyone around you
radically improves your attitude and outlook. On the road of our lives, we always run into
problems that are hard to solve. This exercise will help to take right decision, fight for the

good eventually it lead to agape experience. Jesus was best example for agape – loving one’s

The Buried Alive Exercise

Lie down on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest in the posture of death.
Imagine all the details of your burial as if it were tomorrow, except you’re being buried alive.
As the scene develops—the chapel, the procession, lowering the casket, the worms in the
ground—you begin to tense your muscles, trying to escape; but you cannot. Keep trying until
you cannot stand it any longer, then with a burst of motion and a yell that invokes your whole
being, throw the coffin aside and burst out, breathing deeply and feeling your newfound
Death, which is another manifestation of agape, causes fear in the mind of even the
most courageous man. What distinguished a man from an animal is his awareness of death.
Petrus does not consider death as an enemy of man. Instead, he considers it as a companion
without which life loses its true meaning. As he says, “Death is our constant companion, and
it is death that gives each person’s life its true meaning. Petrus’ positive attitude towards
death makes him grow sensitive and respectful towards all human beings. As he puts it:
Human beings are the only ones in nature who are aware that they will die. For that
reason and only for that reason, I have a profound respect for the human race, and I
believe that its future is going to be much better than its present. Even knowing that
their days are numbered and that everything will end when they least expect it, people
make of their lives a battle that is worthy of a being with eternal life. What people
regard as vanity - leaving great works, having children, acting in such a way as to
prevent one’s name from being forgotten - I regard as the highest expression of
human dignity (122-123).

Petrus is fully aware of his fact and in order to make his disciple aware of this bitter
reality says that death motivates them to do the best things in their lives. They are afraid to
step into the dark, afraid of the unknown, and their only way of conquering that fear is to
ignore the fact that their days are numbered. They do not see that with an awareness of death,
they would be able to be even more daring, to go further in their daily conquests, because
then they would have nothing to lose, for death is inevitable.” (123)
Often we live as though we are immortal, not appreciating the beauty, fragility, and
elusiveness of life. This exercise will bring you back to the rich appreciation of the
surroundings, and help motivate to make the most of each day and appreciate all the beings
and moments that shape the life.

The RAM Breathing Exercise

Expel all the air from your lungs. Inhale slowly as you raise your arms as high as
possible. As you inhale, focus on allowing love, peace, and harmony with the universe to
enter into your body. Hold the air you have taken in and keep your arms raised as long as you
can, enjoying the harmony between your inner sensations and the outer world. When you
reach your limit, exhale all of the air rapidly. Repeat this process for 5 minutes each time you
do the exercise.
The world belongs to those who can master their inner world. RAM breathing
exercise to put Paulo in harmony with his surroundings. He was being able to find peace in
perilous situations, or to invoke calmness when a calamity is occurring. Conscious, focused
breath work will promote this calm within you, and help prepare you for whatever the world
will bring.

The Shadow Exercise

Relax completely. For 5 minutes, study the shadows of all objects around you. Try to
determine exactly what part of the object is casting the shadow. For the next 5 minutes,
continue this practice, but think about a problem you want to solve in your life. Look for all
of the possible wrong solutions to this. Finally, spend the last 5 minutes of this exercise
studying the shadows and thinking about what correct solutions remain after the wrong
options have been eliminated. Eliminate all options one by one until only a single correct
solution remains.
Finding the sword is Paulo’s problem. To help him, in finding solution to this problem
Petrus teaches him the Shadows Exercise. A mastery of this exercise can help one to find
correct solution. As per the instructions of Petrus, Paulo studies the shadows of all of the
objects and people around him and focuses on problem with the result that he grows
confident of his success in finding solution to his problem. The sword is the instrument of
Paulo’s power. The sword only strikes a blow, but the hand is already victorious or defeated
before the blow is delivered.
An immense feeling of strength infused me. It was no longer the illusion of power,
which causes one to become weary of the battle and to want to give in. Astrain
whispered to me again, but this time it was something different. He said that I should
always confront the world with the same weapons that were used to challenge me.
And that I could confront a dog only by transforming myself into a dog….. Then I
attacked him. It was the first time I had done this in our fight. I attacked him with my

teeth and my nails, trying to bite the dog in the throat, exactly as I had feared he
would do to me. Inside, I felt only a tremendous desire for victory (207).

The Listening Exercise

Relax. Close your eyes. Try for several minutes to focus on all of the sounds around
you, as if you were hearing an orchestra playing its instruments. Little by little, try to separate
each sound from the others. Do this exercise for 10 minutes at a time.
Petrus intends to teach Paulo the nuances and intricacies of the Listening Exercise.
Purposefully, asks his disciple to close his eyes so that he may withdraw his sense of sight.
To enable him to shift his faculty of hearing from the outside to the inside he instructs,
Try for several minutes to concentrate on all of the sounds you hear in your
surroundings, as if you were hearing an orchestra playing its instruments. Little by
little, try to separate each sound from the others. Concentrate on each one, as if it
were the only instrument playing. Try to eliminate the other sounds from your
awareness.” (177)

This exercise will seem difficult at first but persist anyway. Separating sounds from
one another requires intense, sustained focus, and this will help you dive deeper into your
everyday work. Listening to others, voices of silence as well as rumblings constitutes one of
the keys to success in life.

The Dance Exercise

Relax and close your eyes. Recall the first song you remember hearing as a child.
Begin to sing this in your thoughts. Little by little, let a certain part of your body - your feet,
hands, chest - but only one part, begin dancing to the melody you are singing. After 5
minutes, stop singing and listen to the world around you. Create a melody from these sounds
and dance to it with your whole body. Do not worry about perfection, let your body move
freely and express itself as it will. This exercise should last 15 minutes.
The Dance Exercise allows reconnecting within inner, authentic self, and becoming
comfortable sharing your beauty with the world. The music within him began to change; his
movements became more pronounced, and he entered into a powerful state of ecstasy.
Everything around him was darkened, and his body, surrounded by that darkness, felt
weightless. He saw himself walking through the flowered fields of Aghata. His guide Petrus
came to him and given his sword to him. He became master of RAM.

These exercises can be used in isolation or in tandem with one another to create real
synergy and forcefully push along the path of personal and spiritual growth. Every Problem

in life is an opportunity for growth and transformation. Paulo’s Journey towards the Road to
Santiago which helps him to attain the personal growth and transformation of life. Ultimately
he finds out the unknown sword and achieves the spiritual enlightenment. The Pilgrimage is a
journey of Paulo move from mindless to mindful, soulless to soulful. It is a life changing
process. Paulo is a role model for modern youth who are impatient to find the reward of their
efforts before right time and in their impatience many times lose sight of their destination
with the result that invariably lead to despair and depression. It must also be borne in mind
that failures many times serve as stepping stones to success.

Works Cited
1. Coelho, Paulo. The Pilgrimage. London: Happer Collins Publishers India Ltd, 2005.
2. Chaturvedi, A.K. “Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage: A Unique Search for the
Meaningful.” The Criterion:INJE, Vol.4, no.6, 2013, pp. 48-55.

3. Gesler, W.M. “Lourdes: Healing in a Place of Pilgrimage.” Health and Place, vol. 2,
no. 2, 1996, pp.95-105.
4. The art of the Pilgrimage (https://www.giveliveexplore.com/2012/10/05/the-art-of-