For eleven years of my life I studied alchemy. The very idea of transforming metals into gold, or of discovering the Elixir of Life, was too fascinating to pass unnoticed by someone coming face-to-face with magic for the first time.' -- Paulo Coelho
'What is a personal calling? It is God's blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don't all have the courage to confront our own dream. Why?' -- Paulo Coelho
'Walking alone down a street in Miami, I heard a girl telling her mother, You must read The Alchemist!' -- Paulo Coelho
A Fable About Following Your Dream.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, as one would expect from the title, is a book about alchemy. As one would expect with any good book on alchemy, it is replete with symbolism.
It is through symbolism that were learn to communicate with the Soul of the World, what Carl Jung called the collective unconsciousness.
There are alchemists who are vague about their art because they know nothing, there are alchemists who are vague about their art because they do know what they are doing. The Teacher who taught Paulo Coelho fell into the second category. The knowledge he passed on was through symbolism and allegory.
There is then a third category who learn through love. You do not have to be wise, learned or be able to study arcane symbols. The craftsmen who has a love with his work is as likely to cross the transition zone, communicate with the Soul of the World as the wise man who spends a lifetime studying arcane texts.
There are those who refuse to pass on their secrets, others who will if you pay them a fortune. But why do they need you to pay them a fortune if they have learnt how to turn base metal into gold, have discovered the secrets of the Philosopher's Stone and the Elixir of Life?
Some of our most famous scientists were alchemists. Isaac Newton was an alchemist.
The Alchemist is the story of Santiago, a poor shepherd boy from Andalusia who dreams of finding treasure in Egypt beneath the pyramids. He decided to follow his dreams, he sold his sheep and set off across the sea to Tangier and thence across the Sahara to Egypt.
We all have dreams, but how many of us are like Santiago and have the courage to follow our dreams?
We are told by those around us to be practical, grow up, live in the real world.
We are afraid of letting down those around us who may be disappointed in our choice, so we fall into line and do what others expect of us rather than follow our dreams.
We lack the courage to follow our dreams. We are constrained by the fear of failing. Like Santiago, we have to learn from our failures, to pick ourselves up and carry on. The secret of life is to fall seven times and get up eight times.
Santiago set off on his journey. He had sold his sheep, had a pouch full of gold coins, only too be robbed of all his money on his first day. He was penniless, alone in a strange land where he did not even speak the language. Many would have given up, but not Santiago. He looked on the bright side. How many shepherds has crossed the sea and visited a strange land? Already he had experienced more than most. Now he was embarking on the start of a new adventure.
We are also constrained by the fear of succeeding. What if we achieve our dreams, what then have we to look forward to, will life from then onwards be an anticlimax?
Do we have the courage of Santiago to achieve our destiny or do we let the humdrum of everyday life wear us down until we no longer have our dreams?
There is no such thing as luck. There are those like Santiago who grasp the opportunities that life offers, who learn to read the omens, the alphabet of the Soul of the World, there are then those who fail to grasp the opportunities, who spend the rest of their lives bemoaning the poor deck of cards that fate has dealt them.
The Alchemist is story telling in the best tradition of The Arabian Nights.
In English, there are two versions of The Alchemist, two different introductions, two different covers and yet both have the same ISBN number!
The Alchemist is the best known novel by Paulo Coelho. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho established the Virtual Exhibition, a collection of portraits of readers with their favourite books.
The Alchemist has sold over 40 million copies and has now spent more than 3 years in the New York Times Best Seller list. There is now also a graphic edition of The Alchemist.
The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5849563]
Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5377804]
The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5763358]
Like the Flowing River by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5448027]
The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 5416799]
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig
How to Know God by Deepak Chopra
Jesus: The Son of Man by Kahlil Gibran
A Zen Wave by Robert Aitken
The Gospel of Thomas translated and annotated by Stevan Davies
God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism by rabbi David A Cooper
The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav