The Alchemist

Yesterday I bought the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It was enthusiastically recommended to me by a friend who wanted to know what I thought about it. At the bookstore I picked it up from the display shelf…browsed through the pages…hmmm…about a boy…sheep…an old King, an Englishman...a Gypsy... ”Must be boring” I thought to myself. But this friend also introduced me to two other books which I read with aplomb and still vividly remember and appreciate to this day (The Da Vinci Code and Rich Dad, Poor Dad). Throwing caution to the wind and fully trusting my friend’s taste in books, I bought it. I started to read it…and was hardly able to put it down. A few hours after I started, at 2:30 in the morning to be exact, I finished it. For all its simplicity and elegant use of the language, The Alchemist has to be one of the most profound books I have ever read.

The story talks about “Personal Legends”…our dreams…our hopes…our ambitions. To recognize our own unique calling we must learn to read the signs…”omens” which give us some hints on what paths we should take, on what things we should do. Ironically enough, there is no hard and fast rule with which to interpret such signs or omens. It is determined by our own hearts…as we strive to understand the “Language of God” and the “Soul of the World”. It tells us to keep listening to our hearts…or one day our hearts will tire of talking to us and become silent. One of the concepts I found most intriguing and gripping is the “Principle of Favorability”. If you want something, everything in the universe conspires to help you get it. True or not, it isn’t for me to say, but believing in it somehow makes life somewhat more bearable. It means that we do not necessarily have to grope in the dark in search of ourselves or our callings. It just means that our hearts already know. It’s just up to us to listen…recognize the situations that will assist us in our personal quests, and read the signs along the way.

The book threads a fine line between people being the masters of their own fate and pre-determined fates…destiny. There is just enough of each for us to take note of and be responsible for our actions, and at the same time cling to the idea that our paths have already been pre-selected, that our destiny awaits us. Maktub…”It is written…”

It is such an incredibly romantic notion to believe that everything has a purpose…that God has purposely made events happen…or set obstacles in our way, and that our daily lives are so full of signs and omens that it would take an individual with an incredibly closed mind and a heart of stone to ignore them. It makes us feel that everything is as it should be. In accordance to a divine plan perhaps…or to His will. It makes us less fearful of taking chances, because all risks have a purpose, and mistakes do not exist…because they were meant to be there…to help us understand…and to show us the way. It is through this journey that we become better versions of ourselves, and closer to fulfilling our personal legends. Just as an alchemist transmutes lead into gold, we can raise ourselves into a higher plane of existence…with the understanding and knowledge to lead us closer to our own goals and destinies. Our own personal treasures. Which incidentally…may not be all that far…as long as we keep our eyes open.

I could go on and on…but just take my word for it. Read the book. :-)

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”

Comments

TK said…
Read it just before Christmas. what do you think happened to the crystal merchant after the boy left him? I wish he did go to mecca after all. Even if he didn't make it, I hope he got laid somewhere along the way.
Ronald Allan said…
I don't think he ever got to make the pilgrimage to Mecca...I think some us are just destined not to fulfill our own personal legends...a shame really. But maybe it was already too late for him...just like what would have happened to the boy if he decided to stay in the oasis instead of going to Egypt...

Gotten laid? Perhaps...:-)
cristina g said…
now that u have a coelho book, check out his "Veronika Decides To Die" and the "Eleven Minutes". Ü

p.s. it's "MAKTUB"...
Ronald Allan said…
Hey...my spelling was spot on...perhaps your eyes deceived you? Hahahahaha...thanks for the tip...:-)
CanEragon said…
The Alchenist a one of his better books, it makes you think, does it not! Paul Coelho is a good writer if you get the chance read some of his other work. Dan Brown is an amazing writer. AS a religion Major studying ancient Christianity and Judaism, some of those "fictitous" threads do not seem "impossible."

There was some base of idea that his threads came from. And from my studies so far, I have become very critical of the church that i was brought into a a child. Was he wrong?? Dan Brown, or was he trying to tell us something. Read "Angels and Demons" and tell me if that story line does not bring up some questions about the church, then look at early church history JUST prior to the institution of clerical celibacy...
Where did those children go??

If you like stuff that Paul writes, May I suggest Dan Millmans Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior series. And the Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

If you are into Asian Thought, The Tao of Pooh and the Te of piglet rank on my list of must reads as well. I am one of the few Doaists that exist in Montreal.

The hardcover copy of "The Power of One" is Incredible. If you are a visual and auditory reader like me, Bryce Courtenay is an Incredible writer.

There are many books written that can take you on a quest for personal and spiritual truth. I should add them to my sideboard one of these days.

I do reccommend that if you started reading Paul's work that you continue the journey. Carlos Castaneda is great too, but you need to be in a right mental state to get through his books. They are interesting to say the least.

Jeremy
Journeyman
Montreal.
Ronald Allan said…
Thanks for the input. I'm currently reading Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons"...already read "The Da Vinci Code" (see previous blog) and I have to admit that it was partly responsible for arousing my interest (again) in the unwritten backstory of the church, its dark side, and its fallacies. "The Da Vinci Code" was followed up by other books I read relating to the subject, like "Secrets of the Code", "The Templar Revelation" and "Holy Blood,Holy Grail". Like you said, some, if not most of the ideas are not as improbable as we thought. Only read one book by Paul Coelho, "The Alchemist". But if his other books are half as good it ought to be worth the time to read them as well. Thanks for your other recommendations as well. As a bookworm myself, I just love reading. Too bad there are so many good books out there, yet not enough time to read them all...but we can try...:-)

Hope to hear from you again....
TK said…
Just in case Dan Brown is starting to make sense to you guys, I humbly suggest you read the forgotten book of Prof. Eco- "Foucault's Pendulum" the one he wrote 10 yrs after "Name of the rose."

Don't let pulp fiction challenge your catholic faith. Okay, if you really wanna lose your religion, scan the internet about the spanish inquisition. atleast it's non fiction.
Ronald Allan said…
I have to admit that I'm an eclectic of sorts. I'm a devout Catholic, but I guess I can't help at least being a little intrigued by the theories popularized by "The Da Vinci Code" yet propounded way back in several books, both obscure and well known. The fact remains yes, it IS a work of fiction. A very entertaining work of fiction in fact. But though it purports to have some basis in fact, an intelligent reader would at the very least try to seek out the truth in these theories. This would probably expose you to all sorts of fascinating reading material. Of course "fascinating" does not necessarily equals "truth". Eventually, it all boils down to faith. Whether these theories actually happened or not, it doesn't matter. If you have faith, I strongly doubt it if you would lose it over a pop fiction book...:-)

Thanks for your recommendations...my to read list suddenly expanded with all the good books you suggested. To anonymous...any chance those books are still available for sale? You're right, I always thought I understood what the Spanish inquisition was all about, since it gets mentioned a lot in various texts but I never did read about it. I guess I oughta fire up the old google search engine....

Another friend recommmended "The Choice" and "The Gift of Acbar" by Og Mandino. Any feedback on those books?

Again thanks for all your comments.

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