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Alchemist

‘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, “I 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, “I 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, “The 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, “And, 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, “Mostly 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, “Anyone 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, “If 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. “That’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. “Love 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!

65 Responses to “Alchemist”

  1. Manish Pushkar says:

    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.

  2. Neha Malhan says:

    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..

  3. Kushal Lal says:

    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.

  4. Divanshee says:

    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.

  5. Megha Pathak says:

    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”.

  6. Vasishth Bhagavatula says:

    “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.

  7. Dilip says:

    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.

  8. Shreeya Roy says:

    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.

  9. Pranay Khanna says:

    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!

  10. Paritosh Malik says:

    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.

  11. Mohan Majhi says:

    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.

  12. Ankit Negi says:

    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.

  13. Anirudh Dharmagadi says:

    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.

  14. Sunila Verma says:

    “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.

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