“The Alchemist” – Book Review

The Alchemist

Last week I came across a book entitled The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

For some reason, I was drawn to it very strongly and took a break from my other books to devour it in one sitting.

This Story Follows The Hero’s Myth Explained In The Hero With A Thousand Faces

The hero of the book is a Spanish shepherd boy named Santiago, who has a recurring dream about finding treasure at the pyramids in Egypt. Prior to embarking on his adventure, he encounters an old man named Melchizedek who nudges him to follow up on his instincts.

There are many parallels between this book and high-value philosophy.

Santiago frequently marinates on the meaningless existence of a dull life and thirsts for the unknown. He envies the local baker for his financial “safety” (beta life), but at the same time realizes that adventure is more important to him. Melchizedek is well aware of Santiago’s internal desires and explains to him that our personal legends are our reasons for being.

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

If someone isn’t what others want him to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how others should live their lives, but none about their own.

Your destiny is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone when they are young, knows what their destiny is.

Desires originate in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth. The soul of the world is nourished by peoples’ happiness.

To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. When you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.

-Melchizedek

Melchizedek also mentions the significance of omens along one’s life path. Omens are synchronicities/coincidences that tell you what your next move should be. Your intuition/heart will let you know when something or someone brings you closer or further away from your destiny.

Always Know What You Want

This desire is what keeps you grounded against the externalities that serve to test your resolve. The only way to reach your destination is to value your own path over the opinions of others.

Everything always comes with a price. Whether you stay in your hometown and forgo adventure for the sake of comfort or decide to embark on the hero’s path, there is always something at risk.

It’s crucial that you focus on making choices out of love and purpose instead of fear and anxiety. The former will take you where you need to go.

As you work towards realizing your destiny, the more it’ll become an inseparable part of your being.

All things Are Connected, Therefore We Can Know One Thing By Virtue Of Another

Your intuition is a part of this oneness, and the universal soul communicates to you through this medium. The desires of your heart are the desires of the universe, and this force is ALWAYS positive.

Santiago decides to leave Spain to journey towards the pyramids and takes a ferry over to Morocco. When he arrives, he is immediately robbed of all his money. Left completely penniless, he wonders if he made the right decision. As he wanders around the town square, a local merchant takes notice of Santiago and employs him at his crystal shop.

The pair discuss their philosophies on life, and it appears that the shopkeeper knows a great deal about the nature of destiny. The shopkeeper’s only problem was that personal fear held him back from following up on his own goals.

Santiago helps the shop flourish but realizes that it isn’t his destiny to keep working there. The shopkeeper’s failure to attain his dream acts as an important omen for Santiago, who uses this lesson to fire up his motivation. Determined to attain his dream, he joins a caravan headed towards Egypt.

He converses with other travelers as they make their way through the vast and barren landscape. One of the members of the caravan is an Englishman who is looking for an Alchemist (a man who can turn metal into gold). Santiago reads some of the Englishman’s books, which further reinforce his confidence in his dream.

The caravan reaches an oasis where Santiago meets a beautiful woman named Fatima who he intends to marry. He wonders if he should forgo his dream in order to remain comfortable at the oasis, but realizes that love isn’t meant to be possessive. His dream is ultimately more important to him than women.

As the caravan presses onward, war breaks out between the neighboring tribes occupying the region. Santiago is a bit worried, but understands that fear cannot hold him back. The universe always tests those that aim to achieve. The tests along the hero’s journey aim to determine whether or not the individual is worthy of success.

In order to win, you must first be willing to lose everything – even your life.

The Nature Of The World Becomes Apparent Only To Those Who Are Persistent And Dedicated

The methods used to attain your goals matter less than the end result. Focus on victory first, and everything will fall into place.

Santiago eventually runs into the legendary alchemist, who becomes his mentor. The alchemist helps him overcome test after test, and as a result he develops much greater courage. The closer the caravan draws to the pyramids, the worse the ongoing war becomes.

Santiago realizes that conflict is all about the balance of power, and that it’s an inescapable part of life. Your heart points you in the direction that best utilizes struggle for personal growth… It’s always better to listen to it, because its pull is inescapable.

Every second of the hero’s journey is an encounter with eternity.

-The Alchemist

The alchemist tells Santiago that everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits them. Not everyone has the courage to go after their callings. Personal fear is your greatest enemy.

The pair manage to outsmart a few hostile tribesmen but are eventually captured by a massive army. Santiago feels doomed but realizes that the universe is simply testing him. For every dark night there’s a brighter day. His ability to pass tests are a reflection of his own personal growth.

Mastery Is Necessary

Santiago manages to pass the army’s test and continues on his journey. He finally reaches the pyramids and starts to dig where his intuition tells him the treasure is. After spending much time digging, he finds nothing. To make matters worse, some bandits show up and rob him blind.

Was he wrong to go on this journey after all?

It’s at this point that he realizes that the real treasure was within him all along. The journey was simply the means to realize that fact.

As he makes his way back home, he is led to an old church that he used to walk past back in Spain. His intuition tells him to dig, and he finds a vast amount of gold. Both spiritually and materially rich, he heads back towards the oasis to marry Fatima.

This book resonated with me very strongly. I felt overwhelmed when I put it down. I’ve come to realize that the only way to find your destiny is through taking action. There will always be doubts, but it’s better to face them than to face regret.

Evolution Is An Inseparable Aspect Of The Universe

Moving towards self-actualization will have everything around you evolve as well. The alchemy of life is making “gold” out of time and experiences.

It’s crucial to stay focused on your own lane, because anyone who interferes with the dreams of another will never realize his own potential. The only thing truly holding you back is your own fear and anxiety. Regardless of your outcome, you always play your proper role within the universe.

The hero understands that he must constantly undertake new journeys and destinies until the end of time. On the way towards my own destiny, I will find out everything that I need to know.

Love is the force that transforms and improves the soul of the world.

-The Alchemist

P.S. Read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

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Comments

  1. says

    Man, it’s like you and I are on the same wavelength lately. I read The Alchemist 5 years ago as a freshman in college. It’s been on my mind lately, and here it pops up (synchronicity?). Anyway, I really enjoyed your analysis of the book, and it’s definitely relevant to some action I’ve been taking in my own life.

    Maybe the Universe is subtly pushing me toward success after all.

  2. Harodim says

    Great piece, really resonated with me. I will have to read this book. The heart really does speak, and sometimes it goes against what you think should be right (or what society or your friends/family deem to be “normal”). The talk of self-actualisation reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs…..and really, when all our lower needs are met, what else is there?

    Keep it up, your blog is inspirational :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you constantly fake your identity just for the sake of holding a prestigious title/job, you will be fighting against your rightful role within the universe. Your overall mood will show you that something is a bit off within your reality. Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor/lawyer/accountant. Your mind knows who you actually are and what you were meant to do. A man of value shamelessly pursues his true calling with excitement and fascination. […]

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