The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream (1993)
by Paulo Coelho
Anthony Robbins, one of my favourite speakers and authors, writes, “A remarkable tale about the most magical of all journeys: the quest to fulfil one’s destiny. I recommend The Alchemist to anyone who is passionately committed to claiming the life of their dreams – today.” Agree! I simply love this novel, a fable Coelho said, about following your dreams or Personal Legends. A poetic book. You may or may not agree with Coelho’s philosophy but it is nonetheless “a tale that comforts our hearts as much as our souls.” As Christ follower, Coelho’s theology (or should I say, spirituality?) – though he is a Brazilian Catholic – shouldn’t be taken seriously or at least questionable. New age beliefs and syncretism (especially the mix of Christianity and Islam beliefs) are obvious in his writings. Once I identified that, I can read this book with excitement and caution.
The Alchemist is centred on Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who has a dream about finding treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt. An old man claiming to be a mysterious king by the name of Melchizedek advise him to pursue it, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation and when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” With hope, dream and courage of an adventurer, Santiago sells his sheep and travels to Tangier in Africa. Along the way, he faced troubles and helps, doubts and reassurances, delays and encouragements, failures and successes, mysteries and love. He also encountered with a 200-year-old alchemist who can read the Emerald Tablet, who own the Elixir of Life that can cure any kind of decease and the Philosophy’s Stone that can turn any material into gold. The alchemist guide and lead Santiago in his journey and so he finally can understand and see the Soul of the World and know how to read omens. As I read this book, it’s not so much about ‘Can Santiago finds his treasure?’ but ‘Where his treasure really is?’ It’s about the journey, learning experience and self-realisation.
To achieve or to have the courage to confront our own dreams, Paulo Coelho in the introduction said there are four main obstacles: First, “we are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible”; Secondly, “if we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love… we know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream”; Thirdly, “once we have accepted that love is a stimulus, we come up against the third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path”; and finally, “the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives… this is the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”
Read this book! Steal it if you must J
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.