The Alchemist is life wisdom delivered through an engaging fictional story. It reminds me somewhat of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet in the depth of wisdom contained within, yet delivered in such a simple, unassuming way.
The main storyline is about a boy searching out his personal legend, by going on a great journey. Through this story, the author relates many truths of life. The principal concept is that everyone has a personal legend, and this legend is both the most challenging and rewarding thing they can pursue. In some ways, this echoes my thoughts around discovering and sharing your gift with the world. Also, the concept of going deep is tied to this idea of a personal legend and journey. You need to leave the comforts of what you know in order to discover much greater treasures in the world – in the same way, to make any real progress in life, you need to go deep and get our of your comfort zone. You need to leave your little village to explore the world around you, and ultimately come back with wisdom and knowledge that is more useful and valuable to yourself and your tribe.
A great read. Enjoy!
On mission and vision:
The boy didn’t know what a person’s “Personal Legend” was. “It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. “At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.”
There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”
“You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love…the love that speaks the Language of the World.”
On the universe conspiring to help you:
The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
On becoming jaded with the unfairness of life:
He was so ashamed that he wanted to cry. He had never even wept in front of his own sheep. But the marketplace was empty, and he was far from home, so he wept. He wept because God was unfair, and because this was the way God repaid those who believed in their dreams. 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. And I’m going to hold on to what little I have, because I’m too insignificant to conquer the world.
On discovering that most decisions are reversible:
I know why I want to get back to my flock, he thought. I understand sheep; they’re no longer a problem, and they can be good friends. On the other hand, I don’t know if the desert can be a friend, and it’s in the desert that I have to search for my treasure. If I don’t find it, I can always go home. I finally have enough money, and all the time I need. Why not? He suddenly felt tremendously happy. He could always go back to being a shepherd. He could always become a crystal salesman again. Maybe the world had other hidden treasures, but he had a dream, and he had met with a king. That doesn’t happen to just anyone!
On getting clear about your desires:
“That’s the principle that governs all things,” he said. “In alchemy, it’s called the Soul of the World. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force.”
On living in the now:
The camel driver, though, seemed not to be very concerned with the threat of war. “I’m alive,” he said to the boy, as they ate a bunch of dates one night, with no fires and no moon. “When I’m eating, that’s all I think about. If I’m on the march, I just concentrate on marching. If I have to fight, it will be just as good a day to die as any other. “Because 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. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”
On courage and persistence:
Meanwhile, the boy thought about his treasure. The closer he got to the realization of his dream, the more difficult things became. It seemed as if what the old king had called “beginner’s luck” were no longer functioning. In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path. God placed them along my path. He had surprised himself with the thought. Until then, he had considered the omens to be things of this world. Like eating or sleeping, or like seeking love or finding a job. He had never thought of them in terms of a language used by God to indicate what he should do. “Don’t be impatient,” he repeated to himself. “It’s like the camel driver said: ‘Eat when it’s time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along.’”
“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. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’ “Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
On pursuing your legend:
“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I’ve known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve.”
“If a person is living out his Personal Legend, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” “I’m not afraid of failing. It’s just that I don’t know how to turn myself into the wind.” “Well, you’ll have to learn; your life depends on it.” “But what if I can’t?” “Then you’ll die in the midst of trying to realize your Personal Legend. That’s a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never even knew what their Personal Legends were.