In The Alchemist, you refer to Soul of the World. What exactly is this? How is it tied to religion and spirituality?
Well, let's distinguish religion from spirituality. I am Catholic, so religion for me is a way of having discipline and collective worship with persons who share the same mystery. But in the end all religions tend to point to the same light. In between the light and us, sometimes there are too many rules. The light is here and there are no rules to follow this light.
You mentioned that you're Catholic, but you've said elsewhere that your Jesuit upbringing was painful in some ways. What do you see as the value of, and problems with, organized religion?
The value is that they give you discipline and they give you collective worship and they give you humbleness toward the mysteries. The danger is that every religion, including the Catholic one, says "I have the ultimate truth." Then you start to rely on the priest, the mullah, the rabbi, or whoever, to be responsible for your acts. In fact, you are the only one who is responsible.