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The Alchemist

Posted Feb 03 2009 10:55pm


I just reread a great book I’d like to share with you, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  The story is about a boy from Spain who became a Shepard in order to travel and see the world to follow the path of his Personal Legend.  As the boy travels, he meets up with a King, a fortune teller, and an alchemist, each of whom help the boy find his treasure.  The boy sells his sheep and sets out on his journey to the Pyramids in Egypt, encountering one obstacle after another.  He heeds the advise he received from a King to watch for and follow the omens that appear.  He meets up with an Alchemist who is known to change lead into gold.  The Alchemist, sees the strength of purpose in the boy and helps him reach his treasure.

I was struck by several passages that I’d like to share with you.  It reminds me of my own journey into yoga, from the first day I stepped into a yoga class, through all the yoga retreats, and teacher training.  To my upcoming trip to India and advanced training in Vedic Healing I’m scheduled to take later this year.  See if any of these passages also resonate with you.

When the boy first decided to look for his treasure, Paulo Coelho wrote:

“He still had some doubts about the decision he had made.  But he was able to understand one thing:  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.”

Later, when the boy was fearful of being killed by the Arabs at war in the desert:

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.  And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

So when the boy forgot about his fear:

“his heart began to tell him things that came from the Soul of the World.  It said that all people who are happy have God within them. … Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. …But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them – the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness.  Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”

Then the boy thought he had learned all he needed to learn about finding his Personal Legend, but the alchemist said there was one more thing to learn:

“before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. … That’s the point at which most people give up. … Every search begins with beginner’s luck.  And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

 There are so many thought provoking passages in The Alchemist, but I’ll stop here.  I’m sure that most everyone has had a dream they wanted to pursue sometime in their life.  Did you go after the dream or did you convince yourself it would never work out before you even began?  Were you afraid to go in search of your dream?  Did you have beginner’s luck but give up after you encountered some adversity?  Are you truly happy with your life?  If any of these passages or questions struck a cord, I encourage you to read The Alchemist.

 A few notes about the author:  Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1947.  He was a nonconformist and sought out new things.  He followed the teachings of Carlos Castaneda.  In 1988, he wrote The Alchemist which sold only nine hundred copies and the publisher decided not to reprint.  But following his dream, he found another publisher.  The Alchemist went on to sell more copies than any other book in Brazilian literary history.

 If you want to see more book reviews, stop by  B arrie Summy’s Blog  and meet others in the Book Review Club.  


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