The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: Not A Book Review

This book made me a reader and explorer of the truth. I was never much of a reader in my early teens. Today I find it difficult to be without a book. I was a wanderer of truth and this book gave me my next step.

I vividly remember one family dinner in the year 2000, when my father narrated the story of Santiago – a shepherd who sells his flock of sheep to find his treasure. He leaves the stability and security of the shepherd life he had created for himself. He sells his sheep only to get robbed in the market place. What happens next? My father said “I have read the book till here and have to still finish it”.

I was curious. I wanted to what happens to Santiago. The following day I finished reading the book. You are talking about someone who would rarely read, managing to finish a book in a day! That was a huge shift for me, that was the power of this book. From that day a copy of The Alchemist is always on my night stand.

The Alchemist - Is always with me!
The Alchemist is always with me

I have read this book multiple times and each time I pick up a different aspect.

The first sentence that attracted me is probably the most popular one from the book “When you want something with all your heart, the entire universe conspires to bring it to you” – This sentence totally works. In the following years, I dug deep to understand what is that I really want. It’s not as easy as it looks. What’s truly inside, that alone manifests. This “inside” is constantly affected by life experiences and surroundings, so even though at times you think you want something with all your heart, at that very moment your heart is beating in a different frequency with conviction. This frequency manifests to form your reality.

To align this frequency with that of the pure Soul is the purpose.

The other sentences that struck a chord with my heart include:

  •  The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon (Pg 34)
  • You must always know what is that you want (Pg 58)
  • Making A decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision (pg 71)
  • They were seeking out the destiny, without wanting to actually live out the destiny (Pg 132)
  • Listen to your heart, it knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World and it will one day return there (Pg 134)

Moving along, there are many characters one comes across in this fable of faith & adventure. A few stood out for me. I share my interpretations of them:

The Old King: He is the Master that our soul seeks. He is that someone who we can trust blindly and with full knowledge at the same time. He shows the way forward. He helps those who want to fulfill their destiny. If you can trust him, your soul is freed from the fear that holds you back from fulfilling your destiny. Once you trust him, you can see him in many forms all around you, you just need to have your eyes open to observe this.

The Crystal Shop Owner: He represents many of the society. He is afraid to make mistakes as he can’t bear the losses of the mistakes. He prefers to complain about his comfort zone rather than create changes and be uncomfortable for some time. It’s the possibility of his dream coming true that keeps him alive and allows him to enjoy what we call, monotony of life.

The Englishman: The quintessential educated man. He needs to research everything by himself. He finds it difficult to trust if it’s not been written in a book. His comfort is in having knowledge about everything. He perhaps does not have the patience to experience the alchemy of real life and is immersed in knowing all about alchemy.

The Camel Driver: He is the one who has learnt from experiences of real life. He knows the caravan, he knows the camel, he knows the desert – all from his experience. He is present to every moment and hence the inherent intuition can’t fail him.  In His words “I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you ll be a happy man.”

In my last round of reading which is as fresh as last week, what stood out was the concept of Faith and the dialogues between Santiago and the Alchemist. Santiago has questions which all of us at some point have pondered: They say listen to the heart, my heart is afraid. It does not want to suffer and does not want to go on. How to navigate through this situation? The Alchemist has answered Santiago in simple words and words that will stay with you. I will not give that dialogue away. You can read the book to find out.

Ultimately what took Santiago over the finish line was his faith. Yes at times he questioned his challenges, at times he questioned his need to leave stability behind, there were questions in his heart all along. The beauty was that he was open to the answers the universe gave him and had FAITH that the universe is on his side. Faith was the language of the soul taught to him by the Alchemist – He believed the Alchemist and learnt one of the biggest lessons “ To have faith in the language of the soul”

Like I said – this was Not A book review!

This was my experience with this book. Buy your copy today!

Do give it a read and share your experiences too.