˜Your eyes show the strength of your soul.’ “ The Alchemist


It’s hard to take sides on lines that are pregnant with such profundity. Should you be a spiritualist, you think you know exactly what these words mean. Should you be an intellectual, regardless of your religious/spiritual leanings, you know there is some sense to it all, even if not quite apparent. Should you be a rationalist of the die-hard kind, you would still find it hard to deny such a thing outright: Adjust your vision, tweak the soul to mean ˜character’ or some such, and there you see it!


This line and others of its kind (why does the word ˜bromide’ keep springing up!?) carry a strange effect.

For instance,

When you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favour¦

Courage is the most essential to understanding the Language of the World¦

Don’t think about what you have left behind, everything is written on the Soul of the World, and there it will stay forever¦


These are taken from ˜The Alchemist’, a book under 200 pages, that made Paulo Coelho, its author, one of the most widely read storytellers in the world. The Alchemist is a story of a young Andalusian shepherd Santiago, who grazes his sheep while travelling through cities and pastures all through Spain. Until he has a recurring dream that sparks off his quest for a treasure he believes he would find at the Pyramids in Egypt.


There begins a story that makes Santiago realize, œI learn more from my sheep than from my books “ a metaphor to say experience counts more than bookish knowledge. Further on, he thinks to himself, œI couldn’t have found God in the seminary “ a note on finding one’s true calling. For, his father had wanted him to go to the seminary and become a priest, while he courageously decided to take a different, if seemingly lesser path of becoming a shepherd. He loved to travel, and as a shepherd, he would get to travel.


He believes in his dream for, ˜It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting’. This quest of Santiago’s takes the firm shape of ˜destiny’ when he encounters the king of Salem, Melchizedek – the name’s Biblical origin is non-coincidental. This old man steers the boy towards the idea of fulfilling his destiny, and the mystique begins to set in.


He wears a gold breastplate (all the indications of ancient Israelite religion and the Torah), from which he gives the boy two stones: Urim and Thummim, which stand for truth and revelation respectively, among other things. Which, Santiago is to use as omens that would guide him on his ˜path’ to his ˜destiny’.

When the old man says, œThe Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one, Santiago feels the presence of wisdom. It’s hard at this point for the reader not to identify with Santiago and his search.


The next one clinches it, œAnd, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. It’s almost unbelievable that a certain Rhonda Byrne wrote an entire book on this one sentence (The Secret). And, laughed all the way to the bank. But, that’s not the point. That’s destiny.

That is not to say it feels suspicious. Anyone who has achieved anything valuable against all the struggles of the world, and against all personal limitations, knows this to be true. And that is why we are looking at The Alchemist. For, simple as it is, its lessons in personal leadership reaffirm our weakness for the ˜adult’ trait to choose practicality over dreams, however exciting they may be. If, in that process, we choose security over adventure, conventions over destiny, so be it.


This book questions that “ To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation, it says. And by and by, delights those who feel they have realized their destiny “ their true calling, true love, ideals, and robustly encourages those who are still looking out. Once you remove all other things that separate us as human beings, we find there are really only these two kinds of people in the world.


Well, Santiago sells his sheep and sets out to Egyptian pyramids to discover his treasure, having to cross the mighty desert. As he travels, he crosses the land of Arabs and learns his lessons through his loss of money at the hand of a thug, to recover which he works at the shop of a crystal merchant for a year. His diligence and willingness to take risk, always prodded on by well-timed omens, makes them both prosperous.


He moves on to get to the pyramids, setting off with a caravan, where he meets an Englishman, who is also on a quest to unearth the secrets of alchemy. As the boy’s quest fills the backdrop of the story, he becomes aware of the ˜Language of the Desert’ – of which omens are a constant reminder, and this language converses freely with the Language of the World, thriving at the heart of the Soul of the World. At what point does it get really cryptic, different from being purely metaphorical, is up to the reader’s discretion. After all, we are reminded of the old king’s words: All things are one.


And then, there’s love. Santiago’s caravan makes a stop at an oasis, where he falls in love with Fatima, a desert woman, who assures him that ˜One is loved because one is loved’, and that she understands the pull of his destiny, even if she has to wait for him to return: ˜You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love’¦ spoken with the calm of one who has realized her own destiny. Although, it appears all desert women have the destiny bit in common.


Breakthrough comes soon, in the form of The Alchemist: The man who holds the key to the secret of the fabled Philosopher’s stone and the Elixir of Life. He can turn lead into gold, turn himself into the wind. He is the fount of wisdom: What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the soul of the world tests everything that was learned along the way.

At one point, battling the fear of risking everything in his life to achieve his destiny, he asks the Alchemist: Does a man’s heart always help him?

The Alchemist replies, œMostly just the hearts of those who are trying to realize their destinies. But they do help children, drunkards, and the elderly, too.


When the mystical meets the whacky¦ it’s interesting, suffice to say.


Redemption is round the corner when he says, œAnyone who interferes with the destiny of another thing will never discover his own. Except, perhaps, in the Reality of the World.

For, when he says, œIf a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: The fear of failure, the goodness or the correctness of intentions is to be assumed, throughout the book. Keep it simple.


The tragedies and dangers the boy encounters are commonly due to thugs, warring tribes, men who are prepared to slice Santiago’s throat if his prediction is inaccurate, or if he fails to turn himself into the wind, also those who believe that arms once drawn must be put to use, and cannot be retracted lest they should lead to war. Destiny is a destination reserved for Santiago. These men are symbolic of troubles we face, sadly, the most believable of all characters in the book.

But, hope wins. Lead does transform into gold “ a metaphor for Santiago realizing his destiny by overpowering the ˜forces of nature’ with the emotion of ˜pure love’. He engages the sand, the wind, and the mighty Sun into a deep conversation and teaches them a thing or two about love. Thanks to which, he evolves, and surely, also discovers a treasure “ a chest full of gold and precious stones.

œThat’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.


And then, he looks to returning to his love, Fatima.

œLove is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World.


Do I see the string of platitudes lined up page after page? I do. Do I hold this fact against the book’s ability to deliver lessons? I do not. There is much to learn here, rather, much to remind ourselves of, because, in the words of the Alchemist, we only need to invoke what we already know!

64 thoughts on “Alchemist

  1. before a dream is realized, the soul of the world tests everything that was learned along the way’
    This makes me think about what matters the most, is it the process or the end result. Isn’t the process gone through achieving something the best learning? Does it really matter what the end result is, give one has evolved out of the process that went in achieving that result. But is this process the tangible stuff? Do people really care about the process? Aren’t the results the tangible stuff and it doesn’t require effort on my part in telling the world who I am? Learning along the way is important, so is the final destination. I have always had this conflict in my mind, however I believe it is more about what I think about myself rather than what the world is. And so, for me, the process matters a lot as it makes me a better person come what the result is.

  2. I wondered why a book which follows a young boy’s quest to find a treasure he had a vision of and his journey to follow his call of destiny was named Alchemist. Was it for the mythical Philosopher’s stone or was it his meeting the alchemist on the was who tells him “Those who don’t understand their Personal Legends will fail to comprehend its teachings”.

    And I realized that every quest for treasure, every call of destiny and road traveled to realize our goals is an alchemical quest in itself.

    So what is Alchemy? Unlike the romantic and overblown misconception of being recognized only as a stone which serves as the Elixir of life, Alchemy is in fact much more.

    The heart of Alchemy is spiritual; its the quest of achieving perfection which for metal s is gold and for man is longevity and immortality. And isn’t it what we all desire in the end. We set our own goals, define our own dreams and set out to achieve them with such conviction that it becomes our destiny. Its the ferocity in the pursuit and the clarit y we have in our hearts that suddenly even the wheels of fortune start to rotate in our favour. Its the same feeling voiced by Coelho

    ” When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

    Hence the transformation of lead to gold is only analogous to the personal transformation, purification and above all perfection a person undergoes and achieves in the course of the journey. That’s the story of every human being, that’s the story of Santiago.

  3. “Opposites attract, likes repel” is one rule all of us have encountered in our science classes growing up. But now & then, there come books like ‘The Alchemist’ & ‘The Secret’ that question this whole premise of space- time continuum when it comes to our lives. Want something badly enough, and universe will conspire to bring it to you. Not quite.

    There’s a very famous comic strip called Peanuts, in one of the strips protaganist Charlie brown states how he’s afraid to be happy, because whenever you get too happy, something bad always happens. I am sure there would be many who would agree to that. We live in a world that’s scared to be happy, we live in a world that’s scared to take risks, we live in a world that’s scared of dreaming.. because we believe once we are too happy, times will change. We want to hold on to what we have, we live in thus, a world which is stagnating day by day, moment by moment, with every young person who decides to join a career that promises security instead of what makes him/her happy.

    A book like Alchemist, shakes this notion. It asks you to risk it all, leave this mundane life behind & walk on an adventure. It asks you to dream of things impossible & achieve them. But doesn’t a little part of you says silently – Oh but it only happens in movies/books, in real life.. we are all alone. And universe just seems to want to get back at us for something?

    No matter how insanely alike we are, we are all still very different. We all are on a unique journey, a path set by the choices that we make. It’s unfair to tell people what’s right, what’s wrong. There are people who find solace in security, who find solace in mediocrity, who would rather raise their kids instead of traveling all over the world like a nomad. Are they wrong? I think not. I think they give this “universe” a so-called balance. Labeling such people as simpletons & nudging them to dream is like forcing a fish to fly. There are some who are happy dreaming and there are some who keeps us dreamers on ground. Both are important, in their own ways. Behind every successful man, is a deeply unhappy & dissatisfied family.

    Perhaps it’s not dreaming which is important, but it’s the courage, courage to realise your dreams, courage to give your all for them, courage to keep going on even when a part of you is too scared to lose. Is Courage the most essential to understanding the Language of the World? I don’t know. But for sure, it is the most essential to understanding yourself. The courage that one shows in the moments that test you, that break you – shapes you, defines you. I would rather spend each and every moment working hard for what I want, then looking for Omens. Over a person who dreams of roses, I’ll anyday respect more a person who makes lemonade of the lemons the universe throws at him. Does that mean I am a cynic? I am just a dreamer who believes in creating ‘my own universe’.

    And as Lennon said, not the only one.

  4. In this comment I will discuss some interesting lines from the book.

    I usually learn from my sheep than from books

    Here it appears that author is suggesting that practical experience is more important than theoretical knowledge. At the same time, to learn about oneself one needs to think and reflect. Santiago learns from ship by thinking and reflecting. We see similar idea in the book Siddhartha where Vasudeva learns a lot by talking to the river. He learns by listening to inner voice and reflecting.

    We have to be prepared for the change, he thought, and he was grateful for the jacket’s weight and warmth

    A leader needs to be prepared for change and he/she has to manage it well. If we look at history of different companies we will see that only those companies survived which were able to manage change well.

    Well, then I’ll be a shepherd!

    Leaders are very clear about their purpose and mission in life. They are determined to pursue their destiny. We see the same thing in the book Siddhartha where protagonist is clear about the purpose of his life. Similar was case with other leaders like Mother Teresa, Gautham Budha in real life.

    They don’t see that the fields are new and the seasons change. All they think about is food and water

    Here we can see the difference between a manager and a leader. A manager is always obsessed with profit and growth but a leader is concerned about change and innovation. While a leader manages change, a manager manages complexity.

    A shepherd always takes his chances …. and that’s what makes a shepherd’s life interesting

    What we learn from here is that challenges and different kind of difficulties make life interesting. One needs to take chance to move ahead in the life. Playing too safe will make life boring. One needs to take chance in career, in love etc.

    It’s simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them

    At the end of the day, what really matter are simple things in life. Some leaders have shown this in their life. Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa would be a perfect example for this. They never cared for money or fame.

    World’s greatest lie: At certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate

    A leader never believes in fate. He decides his own path. He overcomes different kind of challenges. At the same time, in the moment of crisis one needs to believe in something. It can be self, fate, karma. Steve Jobs talks about it in his famous Stanford convocation speech while discussing connecting dots.

    And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it

    A leader needs to have faith in his abilities to achieve something impossible. When we take a look at life of Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa we realize that they have achieved something big because they really wanted to achieve their goal. Gandhi wanted independence for India and Mother Teresa wanted to help poor.
    Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam writes something similar in his autobiography:
    Desire, when it stems from the heart and spirit, when it is pure and intense, possesses awesome electromagnetic energy. This energy is released into the ether each night, as the mind falls into the sleep state. Each morning it returns to the conscious state reinforced with the cosmic currents. That which has been imaged will surely and certainly be manifested.

    If you start out by promising what you don’t have yet, you will lose your desire to work towards getting it

    We see this example very often in real life. A guy starts giving stocks to everyone (employee, VC, etc.) Ultimately he loses interest in his own venture. In the initial what one needs to focus on is to achieve his/her goal. Sharing the rewards should not be done in the initial phase.

    The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.’?

    Different leaders talk about this thing as work life balance. We see this in the life of many leaders. Gandhi was working as lawyer and also doing social service in SA. One needs to have excellent time management skill to implement this.

    …he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure.

    We face this kind of situations in life very often. We can look at a glass filled half with water and say it’s half empty or it’s half full. At the end of the day each person individually needs to make this decision. One needs to look at bright side. It helps a lot if one has positive attitude. It helps in overcoming obstacles life creates.

    There must be a language that doesn’t depend on words, the boy thought.

    We call this non-verbal communication and it plays a very important role in making communication complete. It is a natural, unconscious language that broadcasts our true feelings and intentions in any given moment, and clues us in to the feelings and intentions of those around us. Most of the messages we send to other people are nonverbal.

    You must always know what it is that you want

    This is what we call clarity of thought for a leader. A leader must be clear about his goal and his strategies to achieve his goal. The biggest obstacle standing in the way of success is lack of clear thinking. A man with clear plans and thoughts is always a champion and achieves his goals.

    Every blessing ignored becomes a curse

    A leader should utilize every opportunity. If he does not, someone else will utilize that. That someone will move ahead in life. Leader may not get that opportunity again in life and he will regret not utilizing that opportunity. We can take the example of Nokia and Apple. While Apple utilized the blessing Nokia ignored it. Today apple is prospering and Nokia is regretting and on the verge of being sold.

    Never stop dreaming,? the old king had said.

    One needs to continue dreaming about his goal and ways to achieve that goal. Action is second phase which comes after dream. Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam has said something similar:
    Dream, Dream Dream
    Dreams transform into thoughts
    And thoughts result in action.?

    Making a decision was only the beginning of things.

    It is the same thing we talk about when we say that recommendation is important but implementation is more important. To achieve goal one needs to implement the decision taken. In a changing environment, a leader is required to take decision and a manager is required to implement that decision. A solid business decision which is implemented in a strategic way following the guidelines provided, will lead to greater goal achievement and have a profound and positive impact on the bottom line.

    People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want

    Self-belief is vital. A leader needs to have faith in his abilities. He will be able to guide his followers only when he is confident of achieving his goal. When a company acquires another company, it is able to do only because it believes that a certain amount of synergy will be generated.

  5. I remember, in the class, we had the discussion about the paradox between Karma and Maktub. I believe they are not opposite forces, but the same being in continuation with the other. What we do, will be reaped. But all that shall be done, is already written. We are all pieces of the machine made with clockwork precision called the universe.

    In chaos theory, there is the concept of ‘the butterfly effect’. All that we do, changes something in the universe to be in balance. A flutter of a butterfly on earth causes a storm in Jupiter. No matter what path we take, in the end, it all comes back to us. Either in this world, or the other. Probably the concept of reincarnation would do join Maktub and Karma.

    We are all part of the same puzzle, and each has a part to play in this universe. Some are meant to eat, some are meant to be eaten. To each his own destiny.

    For me, Alchemist had a very simple message : All things are so simple, that they can be written on the surface of an emerald. Apart from Universe conspiring for me for getting what I really want, that is. 🙂

    One word surmises it all : Maktub.

  6. Paulo Coelho in his book The Alchemist teaches us it is not the destination, but the journey that counts.The Alchemist is a story of a young shepherd who follows his dreams of treasure and encounters many experiences and people, learning wisdom and life lessons along the way.

    Through Santiago, the author makes us realize that you may get advice from different people at different stages of life, but in the end the decision needs to be made by you. The author also tries to impress upon that dreams are an indication and that one should follow it irrespective of the uncertainty in the journey

    Through his book, the author introduces us to different styles of leadership. One of them being Alchemist’ which indicates constant transformation and being flexible and adaptive to challenges. Even though Santiago faces hurdles during his journey for his goal, he is very adaptive to the changes and eventually achieves his goal (treasure).

  7. The Italian thinker Umberto Eco said that Shakespeare’s plays are much more richer today then they were in his times, or Mona Lisa is much more profound today than it was when Da Vinci drew it. This is because these works found richer and richer interpretations throughout the world, and grew up to be larger in scope after every age.

    Similar is the case with ‘The Alchemist’- I would draw only the most positive interpretations aside from it, regardless of what the author intended as that is something we can never know for sure.
    Throughout the book there is a constant stress on destiny, and we are left to choose if we believe destiny something that, in Sartre’s terminology, “precedes our existence” and is like a puzzle who answer is already out there before we know the question, or, as I like to think, if destiny is something that one chooses and modifies as experience accumulates. With this latter view of destiny in sight, one of the books message is that we mustn’t give up for fear of obstacles or pressure of conformity.

    As Sir put it elegantly, choosing “practicality over dreams, security over adventure, conventions over destiny” is what causes regret at the end. This also reminds me of Shaw’s quote, ” The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” And it is people who go on persisting in following their own dreams that manage to bring about any change in the world, and I must add that that a humane understanding and wisdom are necessary for the pursuit to lead to happiness and positive outcomes.

    Having said that, the book does provide easy fodder for New Age spiritual psychobabble, especially, as mentioned, people like Rhonda Byrne. The literal belief in “the universe conspires” is not only patently absurd but quite harmful too if it incites people to simple believe “harder”, because to paraphrase Chesterton, the people who believe excessively in themselves are usually in asylums. I’d like to interpret this to mean that the Universe conspiring part means that we begin to see our world in a new light when we are diligently following our dream, and begin to see opportunities instead of only obstacles.

    I learn more from my sheep than from my books? ? Yes, but we read these words in the book itself as was mentioned by someone during the class. I wouldn’t classify the knowledge of books as bookish without having any referents, because books are experiences of people past, and full of experiences and revelations and epiphanies that we might not have on our own. Hence, if we are to use the analogy of the book, to observe the sheep is important, but it makes good sense to read about sheep and compare that knowledge in real life, thus enriching the learning.
    Or as Sir mentioned in the class, we can use the sentence as a metaphor for questioning authority. As Ferdinand Magellan is said to have said, “The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow of the earth on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church”, therefore reinforcing the idea that what we learn is more important than what we are taught as dogma.

    In the end, if I have to pick my favourite line from the book, it would be It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting’.

  8. According to a Latin Proverb “A Wise Man Learns by the Mistakes of Others, a Fool by His Own”
    This thought always made me feel that if it’s true then the focus on “Experiential Learning” in the organisations is of no use. The learning through other’s mistakes(very close to the Vicarious learning) can at maximum be partial learning(Due to lack of complete picture and context)
    Also various incidents and quotes from the book(a few quoted below) reaffirms the dominance of Experiential learning over Vicarious learning:
    ? Santiago crossing the land of Arabs and learning his lessons through his loss of money at the hand of a thug
    ? I learn more from my sheep than from my books?
    ? The Alchemist even after knowing how to turn himself to wind does not tell this to Santiago, so that he can learn on his own

  9. “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation” – or is it?

    And how do we know what’s in our destiny that we have to realize? According to Mr. Paulo Coelho, we have the omens for guiding us. I agree we have omens around us but are we really possessed with the capability to judge those omens correctly? What if we misjudge them, is there a way back?

    I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Paulo Coelho when he says that life is a journey and the journey itself is the treasure. The milestones along this journey are the goals which we set for ourselves both in the short term as well as in the long term. There are times when our desire for something is so strong that we often think that if it comes true, there would be nothing more left to desire and we would enter the hypothetical state of perfect happiness. And what happens when it really does come true? A feeling of emptiness, a sense of being lost and the search begins for a new goal, a new dream.

    In contradiction with the ideas presented in the book, I believe that there is no such thing as ‘destiny’. If there really was something of that sort then why would God or the creator of this universe differentiate among individuals right at the time of their birth. Why not start with every individual at an equal footing and then see who ends up realizing one’s ‘destiny’?

    Finally, its our thoughts that shape our personality and lend meaning to our existence; its our willpower and determination which gives an estimate of where we would end up and its the amount of hard work put in which decides where we ultimately end up. In this regard, I quote the following lines from Invictus by William Ernest Henley:

    “It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul”

    The most important thing is to have the confidence to take decisions and then possess the courage to stand by them. As Thierry Henry, the Arsenal legend once said – “I don’t regret stuff that happened in my life, stuff happened for a reason” , and that is what I believe in. The ‘reason’ is secondary.

  10. I have to admit the first time I read this book a few years back, I found it too preachy and to an extent puerile. I found it difficult to buy the logic that if one really wanted something, the whole world would conspire to help him/her achieve it. But all that has changed after I re-read it for LTL. Just like Santiago I too have had my share of experiences of the world and now can better relate to the themes of dreams and destiny. Santiago was luckier than most of us since he had the King and the Gypsy who convinced him to follow his dreams. But I wonder how many of us have had such realizations or met people who could guide us towards our dreams. Going back to the book, the tagline says A fable about following your dream? but I feel this book has much more to offer than just dreams and destiny. It talks about the fear of failures that keep us from trying to try something new..the various ways in which opportunity presents itself to you..and the ways in which although you start a journey with a goal in mind, that goal changes by the end of the journey. The best example of this is portrayed by the case where Santiago starts on the treasure hunt because he wanted to marry the merchant’s daughter, but by the end of the journey he had new goals and new dreams (meeting Fatima). The simplicity with which the author has conveyed really complex concepts is impressive. My favourite quote from the book would be the one where Santiago asks the alchemist as to why is it so important to listen to your heart, to which he replies by saying Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure?. This holds true in almost all situations in so many ways. My favourite character from this book is definitely Fatima. There’s something about the strength of her patience and love that she convinces Santiago to follow his dreams and if he ever wanted to return to her he would find her waiting. And this is re-iterated by the Alchemist when he says Love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny?.

  11. This is one book that I had read before but was probably to young to understand at the age of 18. Now reading it the second time, the indelible thoughts that remain are those of not giving up in the face of adversity and the power of believing. One can never be successful if one can’t accept failure and carries the strength to move on. This is shown time & again in Santiago’s quest for treasure & is equally true in our lives as well.
    From the time we are born, till the time we die, we are always competing, with others & with our selves. This is what makes the life interesting & also drives us to accomplish feats we thought unimaginable. But those who are able to achieve this state know the difference between running after goals and actually learning along the way, while enriching their lives with experiences. The ones that I have had so far have proved time & again that life’s the best teacher when it comes to giving lessons and that wisdom is invaluable.
    Another theme that was beautifully expressed can be summed up in this quote that comes to mind while reading Alchemist –
    ” It takes a lot to leave everything for what you believe in, but for that , first it takes a lot to believe”.
    This is quite a potent statement to make & to realize its true meaning is to realize the essence of life. That is what will help one separate the grain from the chaff, the essentials from the non essentials in life. It is funny how we get busy in the mundane rut , slowly forgetting what we truly love to do. To truly believe in something takes a lot of courage and to cultivate that courage is a mark of one’s character. People shy away from experiences, only too afraid to step out of their comfort zones. But the ones that do, have been rewarded amply.
    I am not an atheist, quite contrary to that fact, I am actually a believer in destiny and have always seen how it plays its charming tricks throughout our lives. Call it serendipity, luck or fate, but whatever it is, it sure has been visible to me if I played close attention.
    Paulo talks about omens & signs as guiding markers in a person’s life, all conspiring to make him realize his destiny. I haven’t quite understood the balance between how much of it is pre decided & how much we can make of it. Horoscopes & palm readings can only do so much in life as far as predictions are concerned & indisputably hard work holds its own merit. But the pertinent question is how do you even know what you are supposed to do, let alone do it right. Many waste their lives trying to figure this riddle out and the book also helped me reflect on this aspect. Seemingly paradoxical statements look elusive at first. But as I go through these different phases of life; make friends, share moments of joy & laughter, make mistakes and learn from those, I have these sudden flashes which make me feel a step closer to figuring out what is it truly that I am supposed to do..

  12. the book touches your heart as the story comes to an end. It teaches that every treasure lies in our own hearts and there is no need to search for it in the outside world. Search yourself and you get the world is the main theme of the book. the universe will help us by giving us the directions in the form of omens, we just need to follow those symbols and reach our personal legend. the book combines various ideas that we have in a more structured manner and there by enables us to get a better understanding of things. the book through its characters describes how experiences affect us and we will have good and bad times but we need to persevere and keep following our dream. the author tells by depicting the desert that tough time also are a part of the destiny and one should embrace them in order to reach the higher level. the book has given some hope to the people that everything which happens is part of universe and soul of the world.

  13. For somebody who lived a life like Paolo Coelho did, The Alchemist begins to sound like a simple way to put forth what he learnt at a very personal level and he tried to tell this in very strong words. Coelho wanted to be a writer, as opposed to his father wanting him to be a Professional engineer like himself (Santiago and his father had different expectations of his career as well). However, besides this, he suffered much more for the choices he made. Upon his rebellion, his parents admitted him to a psychiatric hospital where he was subjected to shock therapy. He then experimented with drugs and played with black magic before being imprisoned and tortured by Brazil’s military. Surviving all these experiences, he finally took to his calling ? writing.
    Although the author gains a lot of credibility from this backdrop, the book does raise a few debatable points. One is the whole confusion about who is really in control ? Is it Santiago, who living his personal legend walks out on his own to find the treasure, or is it the universe which conspired to get everything he desired? If all you have to do to get something is really want it, then it seems like all you have got to do is know what to want. This is exactly as the adage goes ? you can get anything you put your mind to?, which to a certain degree is true. And frankly, focused intention and directed action does add up to a powerful force. But then, it makes these two separate problems ? one, to Find out your real calling in life, second to walk on it, leaving everything behind. Wealth, success, status and all can be found even by walking on a traditional path which may or may not be your destiny, what one may not find however, is the enlightenment (or happiness or inherent internal satisfaction) at the end of the journey. And then comes the point of fulfillment of destinies ? like the crystal merchant argues, having a dream is more important than fulfilling it. And this may require certain payments of its own ? the gypsy woman asks for one tenth the share of the treasure, and the old man asks for one tenth of his herd. At this point comes the final decision ? what is the price we are really willing to pay to actually walk down the destiny path.

  14. The Alchemist? reads like one of the formula movies which are tailored to earn money for their makers. It seems like an over simplistic effort on the part of author/publisher to persuade the readers that it would be a life changing experience once they undertake the journey of the protagonist, Santiago.
    The fact that the message is a mixture of new age claptrap and as Prof Rai points out the in his blog, the ridiculous hokum that The Secret contains, only helps this idea to gain currency. People will fall for anything, even the patently absurd idea that the universe is obligated to grant your wishes and that desire is enough to get you the things you want. Coelho writes at great length in The Alchemist about the importance of following one’s Personal Legend (it is thus capitalized throughout in the book) and I can’t help commenting that his own Personal Legend had something to do with getting millions of people to shell out their money for his book.
    The entire novel panders to Coelho’s vagueness in his writings rather than any meaningful character development or plot. The idea that we are owed anything or that the universe? will give us things if we just want them bad enough is unpalatable. Santiago loses any subjective awareness that one is initiating, executing, and controlling one’s own volitional actions in the world, his pursuit of the alchemist has more to with creating a proper allegory than in telling a good story or exploring spirituality with any kind of depth or intellectual discipline.

  15. The Alchemist always inspires conflicting feelings in me. “Feelings” because rationally, even after discounting for all its allegorical references and metaphors, The Alchemist does not make a lot of sense to me in its entirety. Returning to ‘conflicting feelings’, after the class discussion, it’s apparent that the story of Santiago promises hope and talks of a singular purpose to every life. And who does not want to believe that there is a reason for their existence, that theirs is not an accidental existence, result of a freak throw of a dice? On the other hand, however, how can one ever be sure that Paulo Coelho has hit on a universal truth (despite his repeated use of the word … persuasion through repeated suggestion?). I take issue with the author’s belief that there is a singular purpose to everyone’s life and the universe conspires to allow an individual to achieve it. This belief in a way biases your perception of the world, akin to the Wizard of Oz mandating that every person in his city wear green tinted glasses. This aspect of his book is especially brought to light after discussion on books like Siddhartha and Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. Could a person looking for THE truth and meaning and purpose to their life afford to wear these green tinted glasses, take the question of his existence on “faith” and “belief” and still be true to his quest? Also having read other books authored by Paulo Coelho, I am yet again bogged down by the question (as I often am) of can one ever dissociate a person’s writings from his “self”. Does one analyse a tract, a piece of prose, poem etc. while factoring in the author’s motivation and intent in having written the said piece or does one assume that having been written a literary piece takes a life of its own and is thus open to varied interpretations? If the general practice was to follow the former rule, I would like to draw attention to the fact that Paulo Coelho’s writings in general tend towards touting mysticism and the like. This thus makes me wary of whatever hopeful conclusions I might have other otherwise drawn from The Alchemist. However, I agree, that there is “much to remind ourselves of” and the Alchemist, like the fables and mythical stories that we grow up with, does a good job of “invoking what we already know”.

  16. Paulo coelho through his book ‘alchemist’ is giving its readers a hope and a way to understand their own life. this he does through the story of santiago and many other characters he meets during his journey to reach his dream which is his personal treasure. while reading the book we find instances which we relate to, it makes us ponder over and reflect same with the experiences we have had in the past. the book is helping the reader to realize how our dreams and aspiration are all connected to whole universe and that it will help us realize our potential. like Santiago we also try to realize and experience the journey to reach our goal only if we take the clues with the nature gives. author is not giving us a way to live but a hope that there is some meaning to what we do and it serves a definite purpose. the author is explaining how various characters play a role in our life since we learn from the experiences that we have had. only after the journey is over, we can reflect back and connect the dots. the fact that it has been read widely across disciplines brings home the fact that the book that there is something common in all of us.

  17. The Alchemist to me is the most powerful idea that every person should have the courage to take their own path in life, since that’s a person’s only real obligation.The Alchemist is about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path and above all following our dreams.
    I find fault only with the story’s treatment of women. The three female characters in the novel, all of whom are minor characters, are the Gypsy woman who interprets Santiago’s dream and demands one-tenth of the treasure if he returns, the young illiterate merchant girl Santiago fancies before casting her aside to pursue the treasure, and his true love Fatima, a woman of the desert whose defining characteristics are her willingness to set her man free to follow his dream, and her ability to wait endlessly for his return. The women of “The Alchemist” wait, while Santiago pursues his owns dreams led by teachers and accompanied by friends, all men.

  18. May be when I was in my engineering 1st year I read the book for the first time. The famous quote “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true” really inspired me.I was in search of something. I had my destiny and I took my journey. But the Journey was getting longer and hopelessness was everywhere. Under utter desperation what my soul really wanted was hope. It was that moment when I came across this book and this quote literally caught me. It is said that “you see what you seek” may be unconsciously I was holding together all the inspirations for my journey. Though I would never say that the quote was the only thing that inspired me but it has a very profound impact on me, it was the diamond of my basket. The journey took years and finally I had my destiny at sight.

    Though I couldn’t reach my destiny and I knew no one is to be blamed. That moment has gone forever and I will never have it. I and my destiny were parted forever. From than I had my conclusion that the “May be the world doesn’t conspire so that your wish will be fulfilled ” . I realized that its the effort that may lead to an outcome but not necessarily. But hope is different it propelled us toward our destiny. We will never know what our fate holds for us but its hope that leads to action which may or mayn’t fetch the desired result . Some times our hopes end with despair but it is not a thing to be given up. We may lose everything but not hope and this book emphasize on that. Then and now when I compare how I interpreted the very same book and I found astronomical difference. I haven’t forgotten how it motivated me and am really thankful to the author. Not sure where Hope may lead to but it will surely not be inaction or guilt and this book has beautifully put it in words.

  19. In today’s hyper-connected world, its easy for a person to be connected to other people, but difficult to be connected to one’s own heart, easy to be swamped by information so as to lose one’s purpose of living, one’s dreams.The path of introspection to recognize one’s true calling greatly relevant in today’s context.
    The age-old virtues of patience, perseverance, ability to deal with setbacks and the ability to make sacrifices is reinforced in the Alchemist. Dedication to one’s calling different from self-absorption of the Narcissus kind.One way of achieving
    complete unity with the self is by transcending it.Losing oneself is thus a great counter to the modern affliction of stress.
    Selfishness in the sense of doggedly pursuing one’s dream is thus necessary for happiness.Over-indulgence in omens and trying to decipher what is written not really relevant today.Searching for omens can be re-interpreted as observing the world as it is and using that knowledge to make decisions for an uncertain future.

  20. For me, “The Alchemist” can be analysed with its major theme being DREAMS . Dreams in the sense of goals and aspirations.Santiago’s dream of the treasure during his slumber provides him with a goal, he commits to find the treasure and by his decision to pursue his dream he is able to realize his true essence of his existence. Thus, Paulo Coelho plays with the dual meanings of the word dream ,as both visions when one is asleep and other being the far-reaching objectives. Thus, the key take-way for me after reading the book is that : everyone needs a dream. The vulnerable periods of Santiago’s journey are when he has no clearly defined goal. This is visible at many instances in the book. When he finishes working at the crystal shop in a strange land, as well as when he contemplates staying at the oasis with Fatima who was a complete stranger for him. Both times he thinks about desisting, but winds up carrying on unswayed. With the aid of Alchemist, he gets back on track of finding his treasure which made him to carry out this long and surprising journey.
    On the contrary, we can think of the shopkeeper in the Arab land, who resists from realising his dream of going to the holy place of Mecca. He does not want to achieve his dream because he feels that it is the only thing keeping him looking forward to the future. He fears that his life would purposeless once his dream becomes a reality. Santiago tries to show him that if it is his destiny, he has no choice but to seek it out, or else he is not living.
    Thus, The Alchemist is not about what one should dream, but merely that one should dream .

    The book can be anlaysed from the angle of various relevant themes like – fate , unity, etc.

  21. The Alchemist reminds me of Robert Frost and his poems. In his famous poem, The Road not Taken? Robert Frost speaks about two roads in a wood, and a traveller had to choose one. One was the conventional road, while the other was a rarely travelled road. He ends the poem with the famous lines:

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less travelled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    The Alchemist also deals with the similar theme; that of either choosing a route that is perilous and following your destiny, or taking the easy route. Many people (like the baker) choose to forego their dreams and live out a life of stability. However, this path does not aid them in realizing their destiny.

    The theme of the Alchemist rings through even in the other books within the course. Siddhartha was able to realize his destiny by following his own path (and not by following the Buddha). In a path that seems filled with thorns, Siddhartha follows his own calling. The end never seemed in sight, and there were moments when the whole undertaking seemed futile. Yet, despite the seeming darkness, Siddhartha successfully accomplishes his goal.

    The Alchemist reiterates that if you follow your path and slog it out, the moment of grace will dawn upon you. There is struggle, and you may feel overwhelmed at times. Yet, if you keep persisting, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  22. Far from being a masterpiece of literature, the Alchemist pleases by its simplicity.
    In fact, the first thing that attracts attention is the writing style of Paolo Coelho and his ability to deal with philosophical subjects such as introspection or self-conquest, with words everyone can understand.
    Through the journey of Santiago, Coelho does not simply tell us a story. He drives us to reflect and ask questions, and to do this, use a variety of metaphors. While reading the book, one can make a kind of appropriation. In fact, each of us directs the message to the meaning that suits him. Santiago’s journey becomes our journey.
    “I learn more from my sheep than from my books.” This sentence is full of sense. In its tentative to make us react and think deeply, Coelho highlights a key concept: the experience.
    Indeed, we learn more through experience rather than directions and stories or books. Making mistakes is not a crime; it is not even a failure. It is what you need to do to get better and learn more. This is only possible if one experience things by himself: fall seven times, stand up eight?. This is how maktub? can be reached and realized, this is how we write our destiny.
    Coelho brings a breath of optimism and a draft response to our dismay, believe and persevere in what you want to do seems a priori as counsel childish, yet we are masters of our own destiny.

  23. The book says that The Alchemist? is a story about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts and above all following our dreams. Well for me it a bit more than that, it is about hope, love, despair, helplessness, being a good teacher, being a good student and above all always keeping your options open so as to realize that there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel without being overrun by the running in train. Time and again whenever I have read this story, there is one thing that I have realized, Life is hard and you can’t always take the easy way out. All said and done, you can choose to be a victim or take charge of your destiny. The choice is upto you!?. This has been the focal point for me throughout the book, the boy having to sell his sheep to go to cross the sea, losing all his earnings not once but thrice, once to the thief, then when the Alchemist offers all his hard earned gold coins to the tribal chief, and when the boy losses all the gold in his possession while digging for the treasure infront of the Pyramids. The boy could have taken the easy way out, have kept on being a shepherd or could have returned when he had enough gold to double his flock or stayed back at the oasis to be happily married with Fatima (the love of his life) but instead he chose to toil it hard to eventually realize what was at the end of the tunnel. He didn’t know if following his dream would lead him to where he desired, there was no proof that he would succeed or even whether his dream was true, but he kept on pursuing it. Why? Is the question we ask, well maybe he was so sure of this dream thing and the omens that he couldn’t think beyond, but I think it is more about conviction and self belief, qualities you require to pursue your goal single mindedly in this case the treasure hunt. If you are sure of your purpose it is said that the ecosystem will enable you to realize it, but then how do you know if that is true? Aren’t all who have dreams think of realizing it and then work in that direction? If this is true then why do most of the people fail to realize their destinies their dreams? In their case isn’t it the same hand which has written it all? Maybe here comes the theory of survival of the fittest and the criteria for natural selection, with the weakest of the dreams being filtered out and not being able to get to the realization stage. It is also true that many a times we do give up on our dreams when we are close enough to its realization, after all man is an emotional being and it hurts to think you not being able to realize your dream or being clueless as to what is to be done once you are there. Well the book doesn’t talk about the second case as it is not shown what Santiago plans after he reaches his destiny, certainly it is not as in the celluloid culture that you say well I have realized all that I wanted and now I can die peacefully!!

    Another thing that the book impressed on me is the fact that you need to be in constant touch of your surroundings and you can learn from them. Education doesn’t only mean classroom education, as if that was the case then certainly we would not have had ancient scriptures written by people sitting on the Himalayas. It is much about getting to know the surrounding and then trying to implement them in the foreseeable future. As it has been the knowledge since time immemorial education in any form is not a waste as you might have to draw upon it anytime during the course of your life. Santiago did the same when he used the things he had ised about omens to decipher what the flying hawks were trying to tell or what he had understood about Alchemy when he converted himself to wind! He learnt from the sheep, he learnt how life attracts life and later on he used the same experience to find life in the desert!

    In the journey of life there will be some setbacks, some distractions but these are to be regarded as the litmus test. The essence lies in how quick you can refocus and channelize all your might and energy to be back on your journey. You might or might not be able to meet the desired end result but it doesn’t mean that you quit and don’t follow your heart, after all children are said to be the great followers of their heart and the result is visible to everyone as to how happy they are, it is an unadulterated happiness, a pure bliss. Similarly for our dreams we might not be able to come to the proper conclusion but certainly it shouldn’t mean that we don’t enjoy the journey, sometimes the means are as important as the ends and this is particularly true for the journey of life, the journey towards your dreams!! If not anything else as Swami Vivekananda says, Take risks in your life, if you win, you can lead, if you lose you can guide?.

  24. I consider the end of Coelho’s The Alchemist to be a bit of a let down; what other kind of treasure could Santiago have found to give the ending more impact?

  25. I found The Alchemist to be a wonderful tale on pursuing one’s dreams. Coelho shows how easy it is to give up ever attaining one’s dreams due to complacency – or not wanting to move out of one’s comfort zone. There is one quote in the book which is my favorite: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Yet Santiago does want to pursue his dream of finding his treasure and yes, at times we see and feel his fear, but along his journey, he has learned to listen to his heart and to trust what his heart teaches him.

    When a person really desires something the entire universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” Santiago is constantly tested along the way, yet he continues to listen to the murmurings of his heart, which are never wrong. Santiago learns about love along the way and helps others to face their fears as well. Coelho states, “And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

    This book, I found, imparted in me numerous jewels of wisdom. I was captured and absorbed into the tale and found myself relating to the fears, but I completely understood the message of following one’s dreams, listening to one’s heart, trusting, loving and learning to let go of fear. “Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there. Wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say.”

    This tale is inspiring, imaginative, and captivating. Santiago grows throughout the story and in the end, even though he was tested severely, he preserved and obtained his treasure by following his dream.

  26. As you rightly said professor, the book is filled with cliches about omens and fate which on the first glance appear senile and naive. However, a closer look at these remarks reveals practical wisdom.

    Paulo Coelho inspires people that our future is ours to make and we are the only things holding ourselves back. A few quotes/remarks from the book which continue to inspire:

    “What’s the world’s greatest lie ?”

    “That at certain point in our lives we lose control of what’s happening to us and we become controlled by fate”

    “A shepherd may like to travel, but he should never forget his sheep”

    ” People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want “

  27. Since I did found this sentence pretty relevant with my studies, I’ll comment : I learn more from my sheep than from my books?.

    I find this relevant cause I’m actually talking with my friends about the differences between French business school and Indian business school. And the main point in my observation is that we just do not have any examples when we are attending a course in India. It’s just some kind of what we call University system? which consists in one teacher talking during 1.30 hour for the entire semester.
    This looks to me as learning from the books, knowledge only.

    French business school is almost at the opposite of IIM system, he is based on examples and experience, most of the time teachers are currently working for big companies and are only teaching for one or two days, which means that they talk about the experiences they had and what they have been trough. Mark is based on project you have to achieve in real case studies, you need to work for day to make a good project. Most of the time it’s more about innovation and being creative, you do not have quiz, mid-term exam and then end-term exam. French system Is more bout learning from what the sheeps knows and what the can teach you.

    This sentence did really hit on m that’s why I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

  28. And when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”

    This sentence really caught my eye while reading The Alchemist. At first I only noticed it, however after reading a few more lines I realized there is more in this sentence than just the words.

    If a person truly follows his passion(s), the universe collaborates in order to help this person reach his goal. This has been illustrated through all the books we read so far this semester; Siddharta experienced enlightment, JRD Tata transformed India into an industrialized country, Gandhi’s India were declared independent from England and The Alchemist finally found his “treasure”.

    Even though these happenings was considered as achieving the meaning of their life, I have myself experienced that the universe acts in favor of those who truly desire it. Me, myself as a simple Norwegian guy, have also experienced that these occurrences; during my studies or travels; small occurrences merge and shape the outcome of my actions. Around the world, these merges were made in favor of me and my companion’s plans and occasions.

    These everyday occurrences might be viewed upon at as small incidents by some, however also interpreted at queues by some. So how do we know if we are really pursuing the right path? Well, if you ask I would answer: «If your everyday occurrences are interrupting the pursuit of your goal, the goal you are pursuing might not be destined for you?”

  29. You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love’
    I want to talk about this sentence because love is one of the biggest mysteries of this world. Indeed, you can take a look of the impressive numbers of divorces nowadays, what went wrong with love? You can notice that the sentence is talking about man only. Does it mean that only men can have dreams and try to pursuit their destinies and girls are supposed to wait at home like almost all old cultures tried to teach us? I don’t think so. It means that when you are in love you are able to do all the sacrifices to make your love happy. But what is the aim to live is life through other one life. What is the final goal of life if is not to be happy? So why should you give your life to another one person? Of course it’s a carpe diem? point of view, that means that you only live once and you should enjoy every moment of your life. Thus, love another person does really make sense? I think that everyone is selfish. That’s why people don’t like when their love are going to see other man. Cupidity is the reason why people want to keep their love for their self. Monogamy makes no sense when you try to accomplish a person dream. Love only exists in a world where people need to be carried by other people. Of course, I think that a HUMAN has always to follow his destiny, that’s why I don’t really believe in love. Your destiny can’t be linked to another person. You born lonely in this world and you will die lonely If you need to be loved by someone, I can understand it but at the end you will always be alone. So, don’t expect so much from the love of the others.

  30. The entrapped mind seeks air to breathe,
    freshness of the dew, the lull in the wind.
    Embracing the new he ventures to find,
    The eternal truth, the fluttering of the mind.
    Walks he along the barren fields
    Trudges he through the infinite deserts.
    Stares at the sky to fathom the glaze,
    But delves he only to purple haze.
    Eyes behold the beauty to drink,
    Whispers of desire and mystic smile.
    Holds her tight and not to leave,
    The journey has begun, no sighs of relieve.
    Cares to listen to the inner voice,
    Craves for the sweetness of her breath.
    Looking at the eyes it glistened,
    Truth needs them to be estranged.
    On the course of the journey there’s a pause
    Destined by the Universe, the royal discourse
    There’s the treasure hidden somewhere
    Where Pharaohs have kept the secret of life
    The truth persists in the inner strife.
    Break of Dawn,
    Mind breaks free, the soul resists
    Charm beckons as the sorcerer persists.
    Truth is what, destiny is to guide
    Universal Makhtub’ will unravel the dark
    Mind rekindles with the eternal Spark

  31. In a book full of so many philosophical takes on life and destiny, I do not find wealth, a chest full of gold and precious stones, a terminal goal of one’s life. Isn’t it paradoxical? Well, as you say in one of the comments above that perhaps the journey itself was a treasure, then why give this whole thing a materialistic end?
    Moreover, talking of personal leadership, is the author not putting forth a weaker example by portraying the life of a wandering wealth seeker looking for hidden treasure? Wasn’t an enterprising Santiago selling tea in crystal glasses on a much richer path to destiny than the one wandering in the desert? And why did he have to define a fixed-point destiny?
    Partho, in one of the comments above talks about “Following your bliss”. When we follow our bliss, isn’t the key in “doing” and not in “finding” or “seeking”? Isn’t that what Lord Krishna said to Arjuna?
    When one chases a fixed-point destiny, one does a lot of compromises. Santiago had to part from Fatima, his love. How can one be so certain that a chest full of treasures is one’s destiny and a life lived with the ones he loves, not?
    I do not wish to sound negative here, but I did find “talking to winds” way too metaphorical and the “universe conspires” concept way too optimistic. Don’t we hear stories of sailors those sink in the ocean and die while exploring unknown waters; probably the universe conspires otherwise too.
    Reading “The Alchemist” certainly was enriching and inspiring, but I did find it far from life and practicality.

  32. O Santiago! Hearken to your soul!
    Beyond the desert sands lies your goal
    Let neither love nor misfortune give you pause
    Journey further and further, pursue your cause
    If what you wish to seek is the highest pleasure
    Go to Egypt and find your treasure.

    What I mean to say with the above attempt at a poem is that anyone who must fulfill his destiny must be focused on his goal and not let any setbacks hinder him from reaching it, and that only by pursuing one’s destiny can one find the most intense joy in living.

  33. An old king Melchizedek tells Santiago, “when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true”. This is the core of the novel’s philosophy and a motif that plays all through out the novel.
    Well for me The Alchemist? is about finding one’s self destiny by following the heart in truest sense.

    The Santiago’s pursuit of happiness lied in turning his dreams into reality. And this is what has made his life interesting and helped him attain soundness in his thoughts. The only thing that kept Santiago going was he loved what he did and of course his diligence & willingness to take risk.

    As rightly pointed out by Sir in sync with the book’s theme, that people often choose practicality over dreams which puts them at repentance at a certain point of time in their life. The same is conveyed through Coelho’s writing. One should have the inclination and the grit to travel on unexplored paths. People often find it hard to exit their comfort zones and prefer travelling on a well-laid out path. Unless and until, a person is willing to try out new things and take at least some amount of risk, things are likely to remain the same. This in fact is contemplation of Santiago’s journey.

    Sometimes life’s gonna hit you in the head with the brick, Don’t loose faith? This is one of the important lessons to take away from Coelho’s writing. This is very much reflected in Santiago’s journey, the boy who never lost faith be it loss of money at hand of thug, be it warring tribes, be it turning himself into wind or be it men who were prepared to kill Santiago if his predictions turned out to be wrong. The cover page of the book itself says A fable about following your dream?. This in a subtle way reflects that one should courageous enough not only to dream but also be able to follow his dreams in the truest sense.

    Precisely the vital part is following your heart in the truest sense?.

  34. Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” was for me at first glance a preachy Aesop’s fable filled with clichés. But the symbolism and the mysticism of the book continue to haunt long after reading it. Statements like “When you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favor” (though clichéd and repeated enough in movies or otherwise) do strike a chord. Maybe the reason that this book inspired such a loyal following is that it gives us hope to carry on, telling us what we so desperately want to believe.
    What to me makes this fable like book so distant is that it isn’t as easy in reality as it was for Santiago to figure what one’s dream in life/destiny /purpose is. OR maybe it is just me that is struggling. For Santiago his goal was as simple as a recurring dream(agreed ,the treasure hunt was symbolic) .Maybe, it is the journey of doing what a person enjoys most and achieving a series of successes on the way and not a single destination.
    And, maybe there is a reason why the pull of convention is so much more stronger than the pull of their dreams for a lot of people out there who gave up. Maybe there aren’t enough Fatimas around to standby and pause the pull of convention in our lives.
    But one thing that “The Alchemist” did give me was the hope against my fear of failure and maybe even the courage and it did revoke something that should probably have been obvious.

  35. Alchemist is not just a book it is a metaphorical story of each and everyone of us. We have our own let downs, romances, happy moments and yet all of us are no different from the shepherd boy. However, we do not always get the best advice in the way and tend to get lost, lost in the material world where everything is done for a seeming benefit and not for the enrichment of the soul. It is books like these that bring us right back to were we must belong and nudge us slowly into our path.

  36. The book though insightful and gripping seems to have a slight contradiction. The oxford dictionary defines destiny as ‘the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future’, and hence controlling destiny becomes a mere oxymoron as either destiny cannot exist or you can control what happens in the future. This contradiction itself makes the whole logic of the book slightly unfounded and the success that has been attained by its ‘sales’ is a mere reflection of the level of blind faith that people are ready to form.

  37. The book, according to me, is seeking to drive him fundamental truths with the help of analogies and metaphors, and that’s what a fable does precisely. I found its messages very profound and deep, and its insistence on realising one’s destiny is as relevant and necessary as any other message. I would not consider its messages to be cliche or trite and it would be wrong to dismiss the simple sentences as as mere platitudes, because in Einstein’s words, if one can’t explain fundamental things in a simple manner, than one doesn’t understand the fundamentals.
    And this is where Coelho’s grasp of the truth comes into the scene, and this is what I think is the real value of the book.

    Hence, extending this line of thought further, I see that the book’s reliance on mysticism undermines its simplicity, and I find the entire mysticism very superficial. This, in turn, may be a part of the reason why it’s looked down upon by a significant proportion of the reading community.

    But to ask for all of that from a single book is too much, and given the amount of wisdom this book packs in 150-odd pages, there is no doubt over the fact that this is a great book for more reasons than one.

  38. I liked the alchemist mostly because its simplicity and at the same time it’s amazing power to influence our mind. Santiago a common shepherd who becomes an apt representation for any person who is seeking something in his life doesn’t matter whether it is knowledge, love or even wealth because the book is about a journey , a journey to find the treasure ,journey to find destiny ,journey to find the soul of life and become on with the world .so at some level each one of us is able to relate some part of the story to our own journey and sometimes we see reflections of our own or others life and journey in the stories which instantly bonds us to this book because then it doesn’t remain Santiago’s story it becomes your journey as well.
    The book inspires you to take on this journey for yourself and see where it leads you to. Author says that when you really want something in your life, everything in universe conspires in your favor…?
    This conspiring does not necessarily happen directly so most of the times we don’t even recognize these small events for what they are… a way of universe to help us to guide us to achieve our destiny .The book talks about this conspiring in terms of omens in your journey and necessity to recognize such omens as signs from universe and use them to guide your journey.
    The author repeatedly uses characters like Melchizedek the King of Salem, The Baker, The Crystal Shop owner, Fatima, Englishman, and Alchemist to bring out the our own flaws and qualities and is able to relate these characters to our of the most important lessons from this book is that each one of us has a destiny and it is up to us whether we choose to achieve that destiny or not. The choice is ours so if you really want to achieve something then you must take charge of your own journey and make brave and courageous decisions and have to remain true to your purpose no matter how big a difficulty you are facing. Author emphasizes this through sayings like Night is darkest just before the dawn’. The book also talks about fear of failure being the biggest reason we abandon our own destiny need to overcome this fear throughout the journey to achieve our destiny.
    Another most deep thought the book leaves us with is oneness. Everything is one whether it is forces of nature, pure love or journey to become betterto achieve something these are not separate things but they are one only and if you truly know any of these you can easily understand everything else. Author also says that there is universal language and if you learn this language then you can communicate with universe. So whether it is Santiago or someone else doesn’t matter because it is the journey every soul must take to achieve its destiny.

  39. Through ‘The Alchemist’ the author teaches us an important lesson, to LIVE life. I have capitalized the word live because that is what people in the present day world are forgetting about life and that is what makes the book even more relevant. Our lives have become too narrow and we too focused on our routines, a way of doing things nowadays both in our worklife as well as in the personal space; much like the baker in the Alchemist who is well-off and a pretty eligible bachelor but is probably living a mundane life of repetitive daily chores.

    The author through Alchemist urges the reader to break free and follow his dreams. In the book the author explains that self doubt might come into play and discourage you, just like the fear of the unknown. He counters this by talking about following one’s destiny and how the entire universe conspires and helps you achieve the ultimate goal.

    Another very important point author talks about is the importance of the journey and the enriching experiences along the path to our goal that complete us. The author elaborates that the path to our true destiny makes us a more complete person and each day of our life brings a new lesson with it. Perseverance is another virtue that the book teaches. No matter how many times we fall down, we have to stand up and keep on fighting for what we believe in. Only then will we be able to achieve our dreams just like our main protagnist in the book. He faces many difficulties and disappointments along the way but his undying spirit and will takes him all the way to glory and beyond.

    Another very important lesson from the book is not to be bogged down by what others think and feel about you. As the author puts it “Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own”. If we put a little thought in our own lives and less in others, then our lives will be richer and we will be happier and the world will be a better place to live in.

    I think as a whole the book tells us to go for it. Our dreams should not take a back seat in the name of a safer life. True happiness lies in adventure which is the food of the spirit and can lead us to happiness and fulfillment. As the protagnist fights his way out of troubles and escapes death on a couple of occassions, a thought comes to mind; “The irony is that a lot of times, only when we learn how to die then we learn how to live.” I know it sounds very morbid but it’s the truth. The book tells us to follow our dreams wherever they might take us……………!

  40. Reading the alchemist made me feel like reading a reverse version of The old man and the sea? by Ernest Hemmingway as it seems that Paolo Coelho tells a very similar story, tough 36 years later. As I assume that some of you have read both books I will point out some of the similarities between the books.

    The characters:
    Besides sharing the name Santiago, the two main protagonists of the two books are very similar and still different. Both are in search of their treasure ? the boy looking for a hidden treasure near the pyramids in Egypt and the old man aiming to catch a fish in the ocean after 84 days without a catch.
    Both characters have to show strength in order to find their treasure and they both have mentors and companionship: The old alchemist for Santiago the boy and Manolin for Santiago the old man.
    They also share their ability to read the signs of nature and of birds in particular: The boy can foresee a war by observing two battling hawks while the old man is observing birds as a sign for fish. Coelho clearly picked up the idea from that scene: Life attracts life?(p. 112) and one has to learn reading the language of the world. I learn more from my sheep than from my books?. This can also be found in the old man and the sea. While Santiago is fighting with the marlin, he starts feeling sympathy for the fish and sees him as a brother and even starts communicating with the fish.

    Also both books teach us about dealing with failure. As Coelho puts it: The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.? Santiago loses all his money serveral times but continues his journey. The old man similarly loses his marlin on his return to the land to the sharks. The boy than brings faith back to the old fisher: The hell with luck, I will bring the luck with me.? The old man is most probably going to fish again the next day.

    There are many more similarities between the books (dreams, religious signs, desert/sea,) that I am not going to discuss here.

    Both books tell the story about a courageous character that has to prove endurance in order to reach destiny. Coelho states that when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it? while Hemmingway is more realistic. The old man is not able to get his treasure but his physical suffering leads to a more significant spiritual triumph. Although he did not succeed he got back his faith and his dignity as a fisher. His struggle with the fish led to a connection between the two and the old fisher becomes one with the world. Santiago from the alchemist also realizes that all things are one. Also, both books teach us not to be afraid of failure.

  41. What strikes me most about Coelho’s The alchemist is, firstly, the ability of the author to give depth and intensity to his sentences through the use of simple and unsophisticated words. As a result, Coelho is able to achieve an elegant and noble simplicity of thought. This elegance makes me remember the Italian Sweet New Style ? Dolce Stil Novo?.

    The novel is not only the journey of a shepherd from Spain to Egypt. It’s an inner growth path; it’s the metaphor of a journey in order to look differently inside ourselves. The novel is full of precepts and this make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand the main message of the author. Maybe, that’s just what he wants, that is to let loose interpretation to the readers (after all, we are the masters of our destinies).

    Your eyes show the strength of your soul?: this sentence is something more than words meant for effect. I think it represents a key point in Santiago’s growth path. He succeeds in making nature his interlocutor. He communicates with the forces of nature through the strength of his soul. His soul gains strength during the inner journey becoming, finally keeper of knowledge (the Language of the World). Unlike the Englishman, Santiago doesn’t need thousands of book to became an alchemist. His soul will turn into the most precious book ever read. At the start of his path, Santiago’s soul is like an empty book. Nothing to read, no pages to leaf through. But soon his eyes will function as pen for his soul.

    Egypt will not be the final goal because Santiago will understand that the research itself is source of joy: every step towards the realization of our dreams gives strength and allows us to learn and listen to ourselves and the world around us.

  42. It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.? – Paulo Coelho
    Alchemist? is the story of a simple shepherd, who takes chances, overcomes his obstacles both mental and physical and finally realizes his dreams. So what? This is one of the most common themes across books, films and plays throughout the world. The book is full of clichés and nursery-book morals.
    What makes this book so special that it is the 4th Most-Widely read book after the Bible, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings?
    The analysis of this question throws up some interesting insights:
    – The book uses simple, easy-to-understand characters like Santiago-The Shepherd, Melchizedek-The King, The Crystal Shop owner, The Englishman and The Alchemist. All these represent the everyday simple characters that anyone could identify with.
    – As often repeated in the Oriental texts – Beauty lies in subtlety’. The author makes fantastic use of subtle metaphors.
    The boy Santiago represents us, the common man with dreams and aspirations.
    All of us experience those inexplicable good fortunes that convince us that there is some higher force that helps us achieve our goals. King Melchizedek represents that invisible force.
    The Sheep, the Desert, the Sand represent the everyday world that we live and experience. Just as Santiago learns a lot from these elements of nature, so do we from our surroundings.
    The Alchemist represents that one important mentor and guide who plays a huge part in everyone’s life.
    – The book presents old wine in a new bottle. The simple truths that are repeated throughout the book are masterfully juxtaposed against interesting plots to bring out the innuendoes in them. One particular theme that I liked was the way the author drives home the meaning of true love. Fatima the Desert Woman, showcases beautifully the art of feeling love without possession.
    One book that I am reminded by is A Search in Secret India’ by Paul Brunton, which has an almost similar storyline. The protagonist is a European journalist who is in search of finding the Ultimate Truth. He travels to India after breaking all his engagements. He overcomes lot of resistance, he is disillusioned by fake Seers and Faqueers, he falls ill and faces other troubles. He is helped in his quest by good Samaritans who turn up unexpectedly out of nowhere. He visits the Shankaracharya, who asks him to stay strong to reach his goal. Much like Santiago, he overcomes all the troubles and finally meets Ramana Maharshi, a great Indian Sage who helps him understand the Eastern Philosophy of finding the Truth.
    Both the books remind us that passion and perseverance are necessary and sufficient conditions to achieve the dreams and aspirations that one has.
    In fact, I am glad to have read this book and go back and re-read the other book. It helped me gain lend a new perspective to my current environment.

  43. The way I looked at Alchemist’s learning, I feel the words fate and destiny aligns themselves with the life of a human being. One has to have a goal in life, where to put in one’s efforts throughout lifetime to achieve it. And the journey one experiences to achieve it, is the destiny in my view. Throughout the journey of Santiago, he met characters to guide, support, show directions, way to the right path; but in the end he was the one who took all his decisions with a determination to achieve the goal. Whenever he felt distressed and in the mind tried to divert from goal, nature came into play to uplift his spirit to the same level as before. I feel in real life, the path is arduous and intricate to follow; and that’s why one needs strong determination and clarity of goal in his mind. The omens as projected in story are difficult to decipher in real life, but one does get support and push in life through different means as nature has its own ways of teachings. One learning that is indispensable to mention is to one has to have trust and faith in one’s decision and stick to them to see the true outcomes of decisions. The outcome of decisions whether positive or negative, has a light impact in short term as these help in building one’s ability of judgment. The need of being strong in one’s decisions is immense as one’s soul is the first person one has to give answer to, the reactions of surrounding forces must have little weightage in one’s decision. Though we believe in destiny, depending on destiny and attributing the life happenings to destiny is a misnomer. One’s belief of having everything preplanned and written by god, is where one looses the confidence and diverts from path; one’s action are half hearted relying on some outside unknown and untrustable factor . One should take responsibility of outcomes and use it in trying to improve future decisions.

  44. Since this book is offered to us as a part of MBA curriculum, I would like to analyze it from the perspective of how relevant it is in today’s business world.

    The book tries to communicate that having a Vision and following your dreams with persistence and perseverance will bring you rewards. It is true in the business world, but the context of the story used to communicate that doesn’t match with the business environment.

    Santiago leaves his town, sells his sheeps and takes a journey that could risk his life to follow his dream – A typical trait of Entrepreneurs. He is not afraid of facing difficulties, encountering dangerous situations and never gives up during his journey – A trait leaders ought to have.

    But, the story has a series of events unfolding that always helps Santiago in his mission and tries to convince the reader that “When you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favour” – Should a leader or businessman be fooled by this belief. I am really put off by the fact that the book tries to glorify certain irrational concepts of “Sign of the Omens”, “Urim and Thumim”, “Language of the desert”, “Lead to Gold”, “Elixir of Life”. Today’s business environment is rationalistic.

    I again read the title of the book: “The Alchemist – A Fable about following your dream” – True, a fable is supposed to have unbelievable elements. Is there a better vehicle than a fable to emphasize “Following your dream” – I am inclined to say “Yes”.

  45. The book’s main theme revolves around the value of dreaming’. It is through dreaming that visions are realized. But, dreaming alone doesn’t suffice. It is important to have two things if one is to realize the dream ? Desire, and, Determination.

    Desire is a wish, a want, or a craving. When one desires something, one has a positive inclination to achieve it. The Alchemist presents a wonderful example of the shepherd Santiago. Santiago desires’ to see the world; he fears having to stay in one place. It is by the virtue of his desire, that he lets go off his setbacks (such as being robbed en route). It is his desire that makes him work with the crystal merchant. And it is his desire that tells him when its time to move on. Here, we see how desire encompasses letting go of one’s failures, adapting to circumstances, and moving on with life.

    Determination is the act of settling a purpose. When one is determined to achieve something, one has passion and perseverance to do so. In The Alchemist, Santiago’s determination clearly comes out in the form of the sacrifices he makes on his way to realizing his dream. He not only works at the crystal merchant’s shop (and sacrifices time from his journey), he leaves Fatima for treasure (and sacrifices immediate love for his dream).

    The book also talks about the importance of practicality over bookish knowledge. Santiago says he learns more from his sheep than from his books, much as Siddhartha learns more from the river than from the spoken gospels. When one is practical, one is aware of the circumstances and acts in unison with them. Which leads us to the belief highlighted in the book ? When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.? This is because one’s want is generated in the heart of the universe (which, in the Cartesian coordinate system for four dimensions, three for space and one for time, would have coordinates of 0,0,0,0).

    So, one ought to have a vision first of all, if one has to engage in the act of realizing one’s dream. And when one has a vision, desire, and determination, the universe helps one towards his goal (by giving omens, much as the two stones given to Santiago by Melchizedek).

    To summarize the thoughts, here is my poem titled Resolute Fantasies’, which I wrote a while back.

    .. And I get stuck up all these hours
    I lie awake, every second gambles
    Insane contemplations , bluntness showers
    A steadfast heart, and my mind rambles ….

    I look into the past, to places never been
    And the world seems to pace down
    I yearn for it all, for bliss never seen
    A craving to quench, a wish to drown ….

    I see my eyes closed, I hear my breath
    And long for a better meaning in life
    Today, tomorrow, for each day till death
    For evanescence of hatred , for recession of strife ….

    I behold myself as someone I ain’t
    As someone in the past , I could’ve wanted to be
    The clouds darken , the feelings faint
    And wander around for a better lee ….

    “The past is gone” , and I hide behind
    Beneath the thunder , I hear the skies
    *God’s own ways* , I strive to find
    The mirror reflects a dream in my eyes ….

    The heavens envision , and I so deviate
    A determined desire burning inside
    Fuelled by fascination the reflections so create
    A step aside *Let my heart decide* ….

    I wanna runaway, for courage I own
    For magnanimity of thoughts, for mentations that prod
    I’ll reach the crown , for the seed once sown
    For the feeling I’ll get in the abode of God ….

    *I’ll give one life to be there
    For the prized promise I see in my eyes
    And sacrifice all happiness , for the world won’t care
    To dream of a dream where it all lies …..*

    It now rains heavier , but the rainbows glaze
    *..And I won’t let my voice sound hollow
    I’ll look up for the days , and will run new ways
    For wherever I’ll go , my dreams will follow ….*

    So adjust your vision, and there you see it! Indeed. Because ?
    The only limits are, as always, those of vision.? — James Broughton (American poet)

  46. “The book invokes what we already know”.Aptly said. The book is filled with simple truths of life that we ignore or often forget.
    For me two of the most beautiful thoughts other than those already mentioned are these:-

    1. “The secret to happiness is to look at all the marvels of the world while still keeping your eyes on the two drops of oil in your spoon” – We often forget to enjoy life while engrossed in meeting our daily obliigations . Similarly ,enjoyment is no enjoyment as long as you have not done what you are supposed to do.

    2. ” Maybe the desert was created so that we could appreciate the shade of the palm trees” – Wandering in the oasis , this thought comes to Santiago’s mind .Very often in life we end up looking at the negative aspects of situations, while failing to appreciate the good and positive events around us.

  47. Book has all the references full of instances and connotations which remind us of one’s obligation to move to fulfill one’s dreams. Through Santiago author wants to take us a journey of self-fulfillment and ultimate achievement.
    The physical being of the soul can stand almost everything (here it means all the tortuous journey & difficult decisions of Santiago), but it’s your mind you have to convince to keep going. It’s not how many times you fall that matters; it’s how many times you get back up.

    The book becomes preachy at times but importantly instead of talking what to do it focuses on making the person realize himself what step to take or may be just following one’s heart. Santiago on his journey receives advice from different people and has its own way of taking decision but in the end he realized all his decision himself. He got his inner drive from his own dreams. He did not hesitate to try something new and also observed his surrounding very well. He learnt from his experiences.

    As quoted, Dreams are the language of God? , Never stop dreaming. Follow the omens.? & “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting? . All these lines stress on the point that it’s important to follow your own path as dreams are signals from almighty and one should follow them

  48. The Alchemist has a message that focusing on oneself can connect a person to nature and the spiritual world. Only through single-minded pursuing his own Personal Legend does Santiago learn the secrets of the Soul of the World, for instance. Throughout the book, Santiago must put his own interests first repeatedly, as when he chooses to be a shepherd rather than a priest and when he leaves the oasis to continue on his journey. But through disregarding everything but his own dream, Santiago realizes his true potential. In this way, he penetrates to the Soul of the World.

    Unlike many popular literary tales, The Alchemist initially presents love not as a goal, but as an obstacle. Santiago says his initial love of the merchant’s daughter acts as the only thing that makes him want to stay in one place forever. This desire stands in direct opposition to the journey he must complete in order to fulfill his Personal Legend. When Santiago finds his true love, Fatima, in the oasis, he feels even more convinced to abandon his Personal Legend. Fatima and the alchemist must show Santiago that his dream holds more importance than staying with her.

    The Alchemist does not draw a distinction between the material and the spiritual world. The book also espouses individuality as a means for achieving the ultimate goals of creation. Additionally, elements of pantheism appear throughout the book. For one, Santiago communicates and finds omens in natural entities such as the desert and the wind. The alchemist says that these elements have Personal Legends just like humans do, and that they were also born from the Soul of the World. The alchemist also associates the process of purifying metal into gold with spiritual purification.

  49. The Alchemist has confused me a lot of times. That’s one of the reasons I’ve read and re-read the book (I don’t think novel is quite the right word) umpteen number of times. The first time I read it, I was blown away by the simplicity of the narrative. Due to the press it received, and it’s supposed life-altering impact I had presumed it would be a weighty self-help book. It wasn’t. It was a simple fable and put forth the author’s idea of life and it’s purpose. What appealed to me, as does to most people, is that the story runs its corse without the author taking a break every now and then to lecture the reader about the ‘right’ way to live life. Coehlo does it in a very subtle, non declamatory manner. That’s what I loved the book for, at 16.
    When I re-read it at 18, it started to seem very superficial. Largely because it didn’t say anything new, anything different. I’d read enough to realise that neither the theme, nor the style of narrative was exceptional in any way. Plus, it belonged to a genre of literature which had a lot better specimen to it’s credit. When it comes to the genre of magical realism, of which Marquez is the the pioneer and also a personal favourite, both the Alchemist and Coehlo seemed extremely unoriginal. Everyone loves an allegory and the various interpretations it carries. Sure, the Alchemist carries the simple-as-afable-yet-great-allegory part well enough. But at that time, it just seemed too simplistice toi carry any weight, any relevance to be carried home at all. I couldn’t help but compare it to another favourite allegorical work; Thais by Anatole France, which through the allegory of the monk and the courtesan put through France’s the idea of a man’s purpose in life in so richly debated a format. Is the complete indulgence of the senses the way to live one’s or is ascetism ‘morally’ superior? The book provoked a debate in one’s mind. It thought ahead and questioned the very thought of life having a purpose in the first place. That, I felt, was what a book should do. Not simply put forth platitude after platitude, one borrowed thought after another. There’s nothing inspiring about that. It’s superficiality, in fact, seemed extremely insincere.
    Now, I’m not so sure. That’s because of the amount I’ve read about the author himself. Coehlo isn’t merely spewing borrowed wisdom. He actually has lived life in a free wheeling, bohemian way. And it’s worked for him. He isn’t vicariously living through Santiago, or extolling fashionable New-Age virtues of ‘following passion’ and ‘living your dreams’. I think in order to truly appreciate the message of The Alchemist, at least for sceptics such as myself, for whom the credentials of the messenger matter as much as the message, one must first read another one of Coehlo’s works: Like the Flowing River. It’s a book containing his various experinces, in his many travels, the people he’s met, the places he’s seen. All of them are mystical and beautiful in one way or the other. More than anything, they make you realise where the subtext of The Alchemist is coming from. Each of the ‘teachings’ of the book: wanting something badly enough to get it, living your life the way your destiny is intended, realising true love in all it’s magnanimity comes from what he’s experinced in his life. Somehow, that’s what made this fable palatable to me. It comes from someone who really does know his own purpose in life. And not through mere reflection, but through practise. There is something immensely comforting about that fact. Something truly magical.

  50. It is true that many find the messages in The Alchemist too simply expressed to be understood fully; despite simplicity being required to convey the meaning. In my belief, this is because, firstly, there are, till date, numerous texts (more so, the presence of these messages in the form of couplets in all the holy texts, especially Hindu texts) that have expressed the same ideas in a very similar fashion using simple words, the meaning of which have been taken to be more literally than allegorically. This is the same as the process of implementation of a thought process that has given rise to beliefs that are not derived from logical analysis which, in a more extreme form, are known as superstitions.
    Secondly, when such a deep thought is expressed so simply, there are multiple levels at which it can be interpreted. As soon as someone discovers a completely different meaning to the same sentence than his/ her own previous interpretation, although it results in maturity of the individual, it may reflect inconsistency in the core beliefs of a person. In my opinion, although the outer façade may keep changing with time, the inner values never change unless encountered with radical experiences. And words expressed this simply, can be dangerous. A straightforward example of this is the interpretation of the word Jihad’, which for many mean an internal battle against their personal demons and for some it means waging a war against the people who do not their beliefs.
    I do understand that I am extrapolating the style of the book into unrelated domains, however, the point that I am trying to make is that not only the words that hold a simple meaning have a lot of responsibility; an author must also fully grasp the implications of his/ her writings in the readers. Paulo Coelho may have taken a responsible approach, but many other writers who have tried to emulate his style have either failed miserable in getting their ideas across or at the publisher’s box office.
    Reading this book for the fourth time in my life, especially after a gap of 8 years, I realised that the book has a strange capacity to appeal to the intellect and sensibilities of people with all kinds of beliefs, believers and non-believers also, religious, spiritual, atheists and agnostics, all alike. The simple sentence of learning from the sheep over books has several connotations and can be interpreted by different people differently and at many different levels. For instance, a believer of karma will look at experiences as a way of arriving at the meaning of life whereas a believer in destiny will interpret it as the things that were meant to happen to make him/her understand the meaning of life. Again, an atheist will value the lessons from experiences the most rather than teachings which have been passed on from generations.
    And lastly, the part that I appreciate the most is the order in which each character comes into Santiago’s life, to teach him a lesson that helps him overcome the obstacles to achieving his dreams. The obstacles have been shown very sequentially and so have the various lessons; at one time instilling confidence in Santiago to pursue his dreams by saying that the universe will help him if he wants to help himself and at the other time saying that the obstacles are necessary for him to completely value his dreams.
    A lot to learn from this book, but it must be followed up with multiple others to arrive at a belief system of your own.

  51. Has it all been written? Destiny, is it? Is there such a concept as free will? Are my dreams relevant in the real world? Is it just a case of being mere puppets at the hands of randomness? The success in numbers of Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist has shown how central these questions are to every individual’s life. From getting up in the morning, making that important presentation, the music you hear and the smallest of phone calls – all contribute to the person you are and the path you’ve taken to be that.

    Santiago on the journey to find the treasure is a perfect metaphor put across for the life of any individual – the dishwasher from Dharavi to a Michael Jordan to the business school product pondering over an essay. The core question remains, despite the variations of upbringing, talents, luck and thought processes. Some take comfort with destiny and a story written down. Others fear luck and prefer an alternate universe when the going gets tough. Still others, brave the odds – write their own story.

    This generation has often been called the confused generation. The struggle for identity lurks among the faces of Facebook. Alchemist, with the indication of the ultimate answer (42?) does provide a sense at least of the map of life. The message of being who you are and following your heart, while listening to the ‘soul of the universe’ stands out – age old and oft-quoted wisdom for sure, but the world sure needed a reminder!

  52. Re-reading the Alchemist for LTL proved more interesting than I thought it would, especially in the context of the other books – Siddhartha and My Experiments with Truth. Of late, I seem to be surrounded by thoughts and ideas that impel me to focus on ‘the purpose of my life’.

    The purpose of my life, for me, is not the same as ‘destiny’. I don’t think I am destined to achieving the purpose of my life. I am, however, predisposed to going farther in some things than in others. If I take it up, I know I will live it completely, find it hard to expel it from my thoughts. I know achieving little victories on my path to achieving this purpose will grant me excesses of happiness that I would not have found otherwise.

    To achieve the purpose of my life, I have discovered, I don’t have to look for what attracts me — many things do — I find it is an active naysaying to that which does not take me to this state of bliss. Like Santiago, I have to find the courage to turn my back on the seminary, on the sheep, and even temporarily on things and people I love dearly. I have to learn to give up on things that I am merely good at, to focus on those where my strengths and inspirations are so aligned that I know I will go farther than most people in the world.

    There are two other things I want to discuss in relation to this. One is a section from adman and agent provocateur George Lois’s book, Damn Good Advice, published by Phaidon. It runs like this:

    ‘Reflecting on Siclair Lewis’s novel Babbitt (1922), Joseph Campbell, the profoundly wise American mythologist and philosopher said, “Remember the last line? ‘I have never done a thing that I wanted to do in all my life.’ That is a man who never followed his bliss.” With this statement, Campbell nailed the secret of living a joyous, fruitful and successful life: Follow your bliss. That which you love, you must spend your life doing, as passionately and as perfectly as your heart, mind, and instincts allow. And the sooner you identify that bliss, which surely resides in the soul of most human beings, the greater your chance of a truly successful life.”

    I think the above is what the Alchemist is really saying in the form of a simple fable. My former grouse against the book was probably because I failed to see it as a fable, as something that puts an essential truth in the form of a simple story. The simplicity, or “the line of platitudes” as Prof. Himanshu Rai put it, is irrelevant.

    The other quote is by that rogue and self-professed conman, Leonard Cohen, for a television show. We can hear him discuss it . The quote runs:

    “When I get up in the morning… my real concern is to discover whether I’m in a state of grace. And if I make that investigation, and I discover that I am not in a state of grace, I try to go back to bed. A state of grace is that kind of balance with which you ride the chaos that you find around you. It’s not a matter of resolving the chaos — because there’s something arrogant and warlike about putting the world in order — but having a kind of escape ski down over a hill, just going through the contours of the hill.”

    I think pursuing your dream, doing something you were born to do, is necessary to achieving this state of grace.

  53. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it?

    This sentence means that if you ask the universe and you should receive?
    Everything is gathered in the universe to realize our goal. The universe leaving tools at our disposal, these tools are under our eyes.
    The universe is waiting for us that we decided to reach deep aspirations. During this time he waits until one decides to do something or not to do. We must turn our will into real action.
    With perseverance and determination will have results. We can change our destiny it is not written all in advance. That depending on our choices and our desire. We can change the course of our life.
    The universe is the witness of that. It gives us the tools, the means to succeed; the rest is in our hands.
    We must be convinced by what we want and really wanting that profoundly.

    But we can also wondering why the universe sometimes does not help some people when they really want follow their dreams?
    I think it’s a question of opportunity. And how people use the tools of the universe, and how they perceived them. Some people are enjoying things differently and look what the world offers and use the tools correctly.
    On the other side, facing the same situation some people do not look the same, do not expect the same thing in the end and fail.
    Not everyone reacts the same way to the same situation.

  54. The Alchemist will always remain in controversy, as I think it is ridiculed by people who think that it is too simplistic, and it will be appreciated by people who love it’s simplicity and straightforward message. But people will hardly talk about what is the message of the book. As I learnt from the lecture and my own introspection over the book, I see that there are several messages in it. Messages like following one’s dream, having a destiny, the Universe helping and conspiring, and learning from sheep not books, leaving your home and love, and many more.

    So, I like to view the book as a collection of messages, not a single object. There are some messages that really touched my heart, some knowledge that I never knew, and some parts that I just couldn’t agree with.

    And the parts that I loved were that showed Santiago’s resilience, his perseverance and his determination. The mystical and metaphysical aspects were hard to grasp, even from a metaphorical view, and were a bit muddling.

    Hence, overall, I really liked the book and I’m a bit wiser having read it.

  55. The Alchemist is a story of a boy named Santiago. Santiago can be anyone of us, in fact, all of us. Each person is searching for something to be happy and satisfied. Some treasure which is meant to be ours.

    In each one’s life there are people who help every moment and still one does not realize that. Our parents, friends, colleagues, etc all help us throughout our life time. They are the universe for us. And they conspire for us. (And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.?)

    We all in today’s world love analysis and like to crunch numbers. But it is always best to follow your heart and that is the most simplest, purest and richest thing. As the matter of fact, it is unique to everyone. (Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.? The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.?)

    All these simple things and our closed ones do exist from the beginning. The beauty is to listen and follow it. This is no rocket science but the most toughest thing to do. The book touches this exact point. It does not teach to alchemy but reminds you of yourself.

  56. “I learn more from my sheep than from my books? ? a metaphor to say experience counts more than bookish knowledge”
    During the reading of the Alchemist this sentences interpelled me a lot. Actually, this year it is my last year of studies and I realize that even with all the book I read, syllabus I studied and all the courses I attended I don’t have the impression to have a enough broad knowledge about my field of study. So, as Santiago said during his travel he learned more than his sheep and his travel than from his books.

    In fact, the knowledge does not only come from the books but also from the experience trough internship,… and also from all the work and social, bad or good experiences that permit us to grow up and learn from each daily event.

  57. The Alchemist is a beautiful fable about following one’s dreams. A cynical person may read it and say that he has tried following his dreams and it hasn’t worked out. The story of Santiago fulfilling his destiny does not appeal to such a person and appears to be something that can only happen in a fable. However if we do look at the book more deeply, we will see that Coelho, along with explaining the feeling felt by these cynics (“When I had my sheep, I was happy, and I made those around me happy. People saw me coming and welcomed me, he thought. But now I’m sad and alone. I’m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine”) also makes sure that he does not say at any point that it’s easy to follow ones dreams. As Coelho says, “Every search begins with beginners’ luck and ends with the victor being severely tested.” The book gives example of people who have failed to fulfill their destiny and people who gave up trying to fulfill their destiny because they believed that fulfilling their destiny would remove what meaning remained in their life.
    The first time I read this book, I was young and I found it beautiful. I honestly did not believe that now, I would find much beauty in rereading the story. But somewhere it still struck a chord – maybe it is true that somehow, we do want to believe that “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

  58. There are a couple of sentences from the book which have made an impression on me and I totally relate to them.

    “I learn more from the sheep than the books.” The metaphor is accurate in its truest sense. Apart from the formal and basic education, every other education through books is just a commercialized means of enhancing one’s “skills” in order to equip them with the tools to take on the world. But how much of it is actually utilized when you are out there, on your own? Personally, I have learned more from my peers and situations in various activities than through the books and this makes me feel more confident about approaching any problem, with no fear of failing in it. That comes when you have already faced failure in previous endeavors.

    “You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love.” In the modern world, one’s responsibilities in all spheres of life are very demanding and so is love. One’s wife, kids, relatives, friends, whomever you share the special bond with, he has to succumb to the pressure. But true love is, as the author describes, is nothing as the above sentences describe. True love has the courage to let go of the other and pursue his own dreams, only to see him/her return back in triumph and much more happier. If only, every one had what it takes to offer true love.

  59. The book teaches us about many things including interpreting our dreams, following the omens, one’s destiny and many more.
    Many quotations have been used in the book , I would like to cite some of them and their explanation according to me:

    “Everything on the face of the Earth is constantly being transformed because the Earth is alive and has a Soul.”
    This means that everything on Earth is related. This is because everything, has a soul, and that soul is connected to the Soul of the World.

    “Love never keeps a man from pursuing his personal legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love.”
    The book says that true love comes with personal legend and it will never stand in the way. This has been shown by Fatima in the book. She explains to Santiago that she would wait for him and so he should continue his quest for the treasure. Fatima teaches us the most important lesson, of letting things go when they are supposed to.

    “In order to arrive you must follow the signs. God inscribed on the world the path that each man must follow. It is just a matter of reading the inscription he wrote for you.”
    The book says that a universal language is spoken by all creatures on this planet. This language is conveyed through signs by the nature. Coelho says that the world is itself a text, full of meanings to be deciphered and learnt.

  60. For me, the book says two contradictory things: one of them is Maktub, Arabic for It is written?. And the other, that one is always in charge of his destiny. According to my understanding, however, this essentially means this: while one’s destiny and purpose is a part of the Plan of the Universe?, it is always up to the individual whether or not to follow the path that he is destined for. He can heed the omens, follow them and make his way to the treasure or he can ignore them, choose to take the safer path.
    For those who choose the latter, a usual excuse to console them with is to blame their lassitude and lack of courage on the vile hand of fate’. Again, one of those teachings of the books that stand true regardless of the era that one talks of: simply because these are tendencies that are intrinsic to the craven and insecure nature of man. In any age.
    The tendency of things is to get the toughest in the build up to the final act. In the book, Santiago’s journey right before the Pyramids is easily the toughest yet. He gets caught by the tribesmen, is forced to learn how to turn himself into the wind, before he can escape. Even after that, he gets caught by the robbers.
    But the message relates to another, deeper motif in the book, that is the fear of realising one’s dream. While one can fantasise repeatedly, work towards achieving it and basically, doing everything right to achieve the dream, right before its actual realisation, comes the moment of complete dread and stark fear.
    The fear of realising one’s dream, the moment that make the hour the darkest. The Alchemist talks throughout of forging ahead, through the various evils that come surging at you.

  61. I’ll talk about two sentences mentioned in the blog:
    1. When you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favor’
    To me this is more about my attitude towards things. And I realized it is not about the outside world. It is within me. When I really want something, and I am completely into it, it is me who doesn’t let myself get affected by other issues. My attitude towards everything changes. It is all about what spectacles I am wearing, at that time. The right attitude helps me to draw positive energy (which probably is referred to as universe conspires in your favor’) from my surroundings. This was always there. It is just that its presence is felt when I have the right attitude. So, it is all within me.
    2. You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love’
    This statement made me think what relations meant to me. And then it reminded me of a conversation which I had with a very good friend of mine. The discussion was exactly what this statement says. I try to make every relation in my life as a relation which helps in the growth of one another. And, to me this is very important. Probably that is what makes you a little closer to the other person and a little more proud of that relation. One needs to hold onto the relation as long as it helps in the growth of one another, and the moment one of them stops growing, it is time to think whether the relation is really serving its purpose or not. This is what I believe in.

  62. The first time I had read the book, “The Alchemist”, I was school. In that Harry-Potter era, I was intrigued by the magical surrounding of the book. It took me to the fantasy world, a nice escape from the mundane chemical reactions and ever complicating equations. Years later I read the book again, and this time it was very different.

    If I have to word my interpretation, I’ll say it’s a story is about any man/woman pursuing his/her goal. Treasure denotes the goal, can be happiness for some, money for others, fame for some others. We all dream to be big, when we are small, but as we gain knowledge about the world, the practicalities, we drift away. The story is the same. We get involved with the sheep (the mundane work).

    Principle of favourability is the seldom spark of enthusiasm, when we decide to follow our dream. But then we are robbed of our enthusiasm by the big bad world. Most people give up hope, but if we sail through the tough time the way Santiago, the universe starts conspiring to help us reach our destiny, the way it did with Santiago by leading him to the crystal shop.

    Omens are the subtle signals our heart our conscience keeps sending to us. It is always up to us as to how we interpret them. The more we ignore them, the softer they grow.

    We often believe we do not have what it takes to make it big. This internal struggle is portrayed at every stage of Santiago’s journey. But at last he realizes, it (the treasure) was always with him in the fields of Andulasia. Finally Santiago may not be a leader, but he is a metaphor to how one can become a leader, and achieve in life whatever he seeks.

    The most important learning from the book and the session was that one should not set his/her goal as a destination, for if one achieves it, one loses motivation post that. This was the situation with the crystal shop owner. Many of us do the same mistake. Initially it is to get into a Medical or an Engineering college. Once in, we focus on coming out successfully and bag the best job. But then the comes a lull. It happened with me and my friends as well. They had no more goals to achieve- the hopes of “making it big” had been long lost along with the fantasies of the childhood.
    So a goal should not be static but a continuing process, that motivates one to keep on progressing. Thus, one never loses motivation in his/her life.

  63. As said in the book: “Anyone who interferes with the destiny of another thing will never discover his own.?

    This sentence made me think about the purpose of someone’s destiny. Indeed, isn’t it possible that our destiny is to interfere with someone’s? I think that purpose of life shouldn’t be considered as isolated from the rest of the world. Some people are made to stop others, for example, every person who contributed to end the World War II had the destiny to stop Hitler’s path.

    However, if you consider that the destiny of Hitler was to lead the World War II and then fail, how can someone be aware of the true meaning of his life? We always think to know what is our destiny, without really knowing it for sure. Only life is going to tell you.

    In the Alchemist, Santiago knows exactly what he is supposed to do, but it is completely idealistic to think it is possible to do the same in real life. In real life, it seems that we are more trying and failing to finally realize what we are meant to.

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