“When the archer draws the bowstring, he can see the whole world in his bow.”
Paulo Coelho is one of the world’s best-selling authors. Originally from Brazil, he now lives in Switzerland. His most famous book, “The Alchemist,” has sold 150 million copies worldwide, and has been translated into 81 languages – a record for living authors. During his career he’s sold almost 250 million books worldwide, just behind Stephen King on the all-time list. He’s won dozens of awards, meets presidents and celebrities worldwide, and interacts daily with his 29 million Facebook followers.
Coelho practices archery kyudo-style, bowing to the range before shooting. “I use archery as my way of meditation,” he said. “I cannot sit down and just meditate in the classical sense. I am very active. So, I use archery. I have my bow, my arrow, and it is my way to meditate, and this is the only thing that clears my mind.”
“When I do archery, I’m not thinking,” he says in the video above. “I am totally there with my bow, my target, my arrow, and I don’t think. It works wonderfully. Because every time you have to open the bow, you can see the universe.”
Coelho has a passion for archery’s romantic side, and its place in life. He often asks interviewers who visit, “Do you want to see my bow?”. He recently confirmed to The Guardian that he watched “The Hunger Games,” and found Jennifer Lawrence’s archery technique to be authentic.
He believes archery provides personal and spiritual self-development, and expresses it this way: “There is this moment when you are only one thing. It is the beauty of being totally tense, and all of a sudden, in the next fraction of a second – totally relaxed. Then, you see the universe in front of you. You contemplate it. You don’t have any questions or any answers. You just look and you feel. … I’m alive. It seems repetitive, but it is not. Each arrow tells a story.”
In between writing worldwide bestselling novels, Coelho wrote a short fictional book in 2008 about archery. “I wrote my thoughts on how to apply archery lessons in our daily life,” he said.
“The Way Of The Bow” tells the story of Tetsuya, once the best archer in an unnamed country, who starts teaching a boy in his village. It contains some of the most poetic words ever written about the sport:
“On a day when you are out of love with life, your aim will be confused. Difficult. You will find that you lack the strength to draw the string back fully, that you cannot get the bow to bend as it should. … The opposite can happen too: your aim is true, the string hums like a musical instrument, the birds are singing all around. Then you realize that you are giving of your best.
“Nevertheless, do not allow yourself to be carried away by how you shoot in the morning, whether well or badly. There are many more days ahead, and each arrow is a life in itself…. But do not stop either out of fear or joy: The way of the bow has no end.”
At age 69, Paulo Coelho shows no sign of stopping his writing or shooting. If someone’s brilliant words inspired you to take up archery, the best place to start is a nearby archery store.