Posts Tagged ‘Ken Crane’

Porcupines and Solidarity

September 7, 2014

Porcupines and Solidarity — Paulo Coelho

illustrations — Ken Crane

Synchronicity: I was reading Adultery this afternoon. The story revolves around Laura, a journalist who has lost meaning in her life. She reads Porcupines and Solidarity to her children.

Reading the signs

April 10, 2012

We all make mistakes … No one learns a new language without making mistakes … By making mistakes, by daring to make mistakes, you learn. — Paulo Coelho

Like Santiago in The Alchemist I have always been able to read the signs.

I do not know if it is an innate ability, but for most people it is an alien concept.

In Faith Under Fire, Canon Andrew White discusses how in Baghdad, people have come to understand the importance of signs.

For the people of Baghdad, these signs can quite literally mean the difference between life and death.

We all make mistakes. Those who do not make mistakes, are not perfect, they are the sad individuals who never take risks, do not follow their dreams, then in their dying days, regret a wasted life.

Live a lie and regret or take risks and follow your dreams

It is through taking risks we progress.

What is wrong, is not the making of mistakes, but to not learn from our mistakes, to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

If we put our hand on a hot plate and it burns, what do we gain by repeating the exercise?

Sometimes though we do not read the signs, or we read them incorrectly.

Paulo Coelho talks about reading the signs.

He then tells a lovely story, brought to life with illustrations by Ken Crane.


The law and the fruits

January 17, 2012
fruits of the earth - Ken Crane

fruits of the earth - Ken Crane

In the desert, fruit was scarce. God called one of his prophets and said:

– Each person may only eat one fruit a day.

The custom was obeyed for many generations, and the ecology of the place was preserved. Since the remaining fruit supplied seeds, other trees appeared. Soon, the entire region was turned into fertile soil, which was the envy of other towns.

But the people continued to eat one fruit a day – they remained faithful to what the ancient prophet of their forefathers had told them. However they never allowed the inhabitants of other villages to take advantage of the abundant harvest with which they were rewarded each year.

The result was that fruit rotted on the ground.

God called a new prophet and said:

– Let them eat as much fruit as they like. And ask them to share the abundance with their neighbors.

The prophet came to the town with the new message. But he was stoned – for by now the custom was ingrained in the hearts and minds of each of the inhabitants.

With time, the younger villagers began to question the barbaric old custom. But, since the tradition of the elders was unbending, they decided to abandon the religion. Thus, they could eat as much fruit as they wished, and give the rest to those in need of food.

The only people who remained faithful to the local church, were those who considered themselves saints. But in truth they were unable to see how the world changes, and recognize how one must change with it.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Illustration by Ken Crane.

Sadly there are too many churches like this.

Top story in Bird♫is♪the♫Word (Wednesday 18 January 2012).

Today we have the problem of too many fruits of the earth being eaten, sufficient for everyone’s needs, insufficient for everyone’s greed.

“I’d rather be in hell”

December 31, 2011
heaven or hell - Ken Crane

heaven or hell - Ken Crane

As soon as he died, Juan found himself in a gorgeous place, surrounded by all the comfort and beauty he had dreamed of.

A fellow dressed in white approached him and said, “You have the right to have whatever you want; any food, pleasure or amusement.”

Charmed, Juan did everything he dreamed of doing during his life. After many years of pleasures, he sought the fellow in white and asked, “I have already experienced everything I wanted. Now I need to work in order to feel useful.”

“I am sorry,” said the fellow in white, “but that is the only thing I am unable to give you. There is no work here.”

“How terrible,” Juan said annoyed, “I will spend eternity dying of boredom! I’d much rather be in hell!”

The man in white approached him and said in a low voice:

“And where do you think you are?”

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Rob Bell describes something similar in his excellent book Love Wins, a world of boredom for all eternity, for many that would be hell.

Heaven is not some otherworldly place. Is that all life has to offer, we hang around waiting to go some place else?

Heaven is here on earth, it is what we choose of our life here and now. Or we turn it into hell.

We are the ones who have the choice, to turn swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks, new wine will drip from the mountains, all nations, that is all colours, all races, all creeds.

But we prefer to create hell on earth.

Fundamentalists tell us that if we do not believe what they believe we will go to hell not heaven. They are of course the self-appointed chosen ones who will go to heaven.

Hell is not a mythical place. It is here on earth, we create it.

It is Rwanda. It is the nine-year-old girl raped by her mother’s boyfriend or the parish priest. It is Iraq as it descends into hell.

The Truth as Iraq descends into Hell

And yet even in Iraq, as it descends into hell, the people find joy, love wins.

The city on the other side

December 12, 2011
city on the other side - Ken Crane

city on the other side - Ken Crane

A hermit from the monastery of Sceta approached Abbot Theodore:

‘I know exactly what the purpose of life is. I know what God asks of man and I know the best way to serve Him. And yet, even so, I am incapable of doing everything I should be doing in order to serve the Lord.’

The Abbot remained silent for a long time. Then he said:

‘You know that there is a city on the other side of the ocean, but you have not yet found the ship or placed your baggage on board and crossed the sea.

‘Why then bother talking about it or about how we should walk its streets?

‘It is not enough to know what life is for or to know the best way to serve God.

‘Put your ideas into practice and the road will reveal itself to you.’

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

A saint in the wrong place

April 30, 2011
heaven - Ken Crane

heaven - Ken Crane

‘Why is it that some people can resolve the most complicated problems really easily, whilst others agonize over every tiny crisis and end up drowning in a glass of water?’ I asked.

Ramesh replied by telling the following story: ‘Once upon a time, there was a man who had been the soul of kindness all his life. When he died, everyone assumed that he would go straight to Heaven, for the only possible place for a good man like him was Paradise. The man wasn’t particularly bothered about going to Heaven, but that was where he went.

Now in those days, service in heaven was not all that it might be. The reception desk was extremely inefficient, and the girl who received him gave only a cursory glance through the index cards before her and when she couldn’t find the man’s name, she sent him straight to Hell. And in Hell no one asks to check your badge or your invitation, for anyone who turns up is invited in. The man entered and stayed.

Some days later, Lucifer stormed up to the gates of Heaven to demand an explanation from St Peter. “What you’re doing is pure terrorism!” he said. St Peter asked why Lucifer was so angry, and an enraged Lucifer replied: “You sent that man down into Hell, and he’s completely undermining me! Right from the start, there he was listening to people, looking them in the eye, talking to them. And now everyone’s sharing their feelings and hugging and kissing. That’s not the sort of thing I want in Hell! Please, let him into Heaven!’

When Ramesh had finished telling the story, he looked at me fondly and said: ‘Live your life with so much love in your heart that if, by mistake, you were sent to Hell, the Devil himself would deliver you up to Paradise.’

I posted this story by Paulo Coelho last summer, but as it is such a lovely story, I have followed the example of Paulo Coelho and posted again, this time with an illustration by my good friend Ken Crane.

Another lovely story

The world would be a better place if we all carried out random acts of kindness every day.

Even Hell can be transformed!

Alchemist Stone

March 24, 2011

At his St Joseph’s Day Party at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, Paulo Coelho sat patiently signing books and chatting with his friends into the early hours of the morning.

It must have been around 1am and those of us who were left Paulo asked us to sit around his table. He then asked Ken Crane to tell us the story of the Alchemist Stone. I did not fully follow what Ken was telling us and I asked would he post it on his blog which he kindly did a few days later.


I was asked by Paulo to attend St Joseph’s party on early November. The party was to take place at Istanbul on 2011 March. But I did not answer immediately, I wrote to Paulo let me think for a while. I was not sure if I could save a money to go to Istanbul. Of course, I did want to attend the party and meet with Paulo but I left this for a while to think.

alchemist stone

alchemist stone

On one late November, my wife Yumi went to her friend’s exhibition at Tokyo. This Yumi’s friend, is a handicraft artist making necklaces with stones. She invited us to her exhibition, but I was away to do my job so Yumi went ahead to the exhibition, I decided to go to the exhibition after I finish my job. When Yumi entered the gallery, she saw more than a hundred beautiful necklaces hanged on the walls. All of those necklaces were using what they call power stone as a motif. After having a little conversation, the artist asked Yumi which necklace she likes the best. There were several kinds of necklaces hanged on the wall, all of them were using different kinds of stones. Yumi immediately pointed the necklace using a blue stone. “That’s interesting that you’ve chosen that stone” The artist said to Yumi.

After an hour or so, after I finished a job, I arrived the gallery. Yumi asked me a same question that she was asked. “Which necklace do you like the best?”

After looking at them for a while, I pointed the same necklace out of a hundred necklaces. It was the same necklace that Yumi have chosen. “The name of the stone on this necklace is Aqua Aura” the artist started describing to us. “Aqua Aura is very good for a creative people. The stone makes the people connect to universe. And it is related to throat chakra, so this stone is also very good for the people who sings (note: Yumi is a very good singer)”

To be very honest, I was reading many spiritual books, but I did not believe in stone power, but Yumi believed in it.

Ken, Paulo & Yumi

Ken, Paulo & Yumi

The artist continued: “the stone is a natural crystal but it wasn’t originally blue when it was mined from the ground. It is turned blue by an alchemical process using gold. So this Aqua Aura is also called Alchemist Stone”

Yumi screamed when she heard this (I didn’t scream, but I was very surprised). We were talking what to do about St Joseph’s party for many days. Yumi started explaining to the artist why she screamed. After hearing Yumi’s story, the artist told us that she is also a Paulo Coelho’s fan.

So this was the the day we’ve decided to go Istanbul. I felt like I have to give this stone to Paulo.


Alchemists turn base metal into gold. Here we have gold being used to change a crystal. In The Alchemist Santiago learns how to read the signs, to communicate with the Soul of the World.

Alchemists sought to turn base metals into gold. Aqua Aura is created through an alchemical process where molecules of pure gold are bonded to the quartz by the natural electric charge of the crystal, which amplifies the conductivity of the quartz. This produces a celestial shade of blue that reflects a spectrum of opalescent metallic colors (it is not a coating, but permanently permeates the quartz). Aqua Aura creates an immensely powerful protection combination, which fuses the White, Blue and Gold Rays into an iridescent display of Light.

I stayed in the old part of Istanbul. The receptionist at my hotel was called Elif. She was a Paulo Coelho fan. I met Işil who owned a spice shop. She too was a Paulo Coelho fan. I left as gifts for both of them signed copies of Elif which had just been published in Turkey.

I noticed at the party that Paulo Coelho was wearing an Alchemist Stone!

Aqua Aura
The Alchemist Himself

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