The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

Fiction
Philosophy

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Book in 1 paragraph

  • An age-less parable about the pursuit for personal dreams. Told through the eyes of a Shepherd who’s experiences took him along many paths on his way to find his Treasure

5 Key Ideas

  • Everyone has a Personal Legend they must find. It's our true purpose in life. Don't be a sheep
  • Overcoming fear and seizing opportunities is how we become who we’re meant to become
  • The only way to live our Personal Legend is to persist through the difficulties & challenges
  • There is a Grand Design for everyone and everything. Sometimes, we may take the long winded and difficult way to get to our Legend. So be patient.
  • Love is the strongest force in the Universe 😀

To Ponder

  • It may seem idyllic to rely on someone else to make all our decisions for us (like sheep do). But it could be life threatening as we’re no longer looking after our well being
  • Everything, everyone has a Purpose in this world. That’s our Personal Legend
  • Look out for Omens - luck does exist and the Universe will give us
  • "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels in the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.” - don’t forget what we have, in front of us - our family, friends, who we are...
  • Be weary of seeing the world for what I want. Not what it is.
  • When we are filled with curiosity or have nothing but good vibes about something. That is the time to strike. That's when our whole being is tuned to getting the best outcome for ourselves and we exude a vibe of confidence and certainty. Much more likely to think abundantly and get they outcome we want
  • Fear rules most of us. To achieve anything, we should just make a commitment and start on the journey
  • if you can maximise opportunities, and help other people make money, you too will be rewarded
  • Maktub - “So it is written"
  • Do things with Enthusiasm - only then is this quote valid:

              • “When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it,”

  • Chase after you dreams, we can always go back to doing what we did: "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!"
  • Find the flow of things, learn its rules and go where my Personal Legends points. Going against the flow is counterproductive - recognise the signs:

               • "The caravan and the desert speak the same language, and it’s for that reason that the desert allows the crossing. It’s going to test the caravan’s every step to see if it’s in time, and, if it is, we will make it to the oasis.” “If either of us had joined this caravan based only on personal courage, but without understanding that language, this journey would have been much more difficult.”

  • We all seek the True Path, but in different ways
  • We’re “asked” to prove our commitment by being persistent "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."
  • Forget about the future. Forget about the Past. Focus on the Present. Only in changing the present can we improve upon it and the future.

               • "The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity.”

  • The reward is in the journey. The experience itself is the Reward
  • At its core, the basic principles of life should be straight forward and easy to understand. We’ve decided to make things complicated by rejecting simple things, with over interpretation and philosophical studies
  • We need to learn to listen to our heart to truly be who we are, chase our dreams, and find true Happiness
  • There is no point in showing people “treasures within you”, people won’t believe you
  • Believe in the greater Design of the Universe, that everyone & everything has its place. Be patient in what we do, and appreciate the journey.

Plot

  • Our protogonist, the Boy is a shepherd based in Spain, who was a priest in training. Decided he wants to see the world
  • He’s passed through many towns, and in one town talks to a fortune teller about his recurring dreams of being led to a Egytian treasure at the Pyramids by a little girl
  • Boy meets a “King”, a messenger of god / the Universe who appears to anyone who has found their Personal Legend. “King” tells the boy to go to Egypt by following the Omens, and gifts 2 stones to the Boy to help him make decisions during tough times
  • Boy sells his sheep and goes to Tunisia in Africa to begin his trip. He is duped out of his money the first night he lands
  • Boy meets a Crystal merchant who took a chance on his, and who believes in Omens. Boy’s willingness to try anything and his ability to recognise Omens makes him and the merchant very rich as they use different advertising methods to sell the crystal (e.g. set up a tea station on the hill with many passer-bys, serving tea out the crystals)
  • After a year, Boy debates whether to go back to his town and buy sheep, or venture toward his Personal Legend. He decides the latter and joins the expedition out to the Egypt. Boy meets an Englishman on the journey who’s looking for the Alchemist - someone who can see into the Soul of the World and can read the Omens
  • There is a civil war as the Boy and Englishman’s expedition tries to reach the Oasis. When they got there, Boy has a vision of armies attacking the Oasis (which is against tradition for all tribes). He warns the tribal leaders at the Oasis, and puts his life on the line as a bet to ensure the Oasis is defended.
  • Next day, a tribe attack the Oasis, and were killed. Boy is made the councillor of the Oasis
  • Also at the Oasis, boy meets love of his life Fatima who yearns to be with him, but as a girl of the desert, understands what it means to wait for her man as they seek their Personal Legend.
  • Boy meets the Alchemist who helps him to reach Egygt
  • On the way to Egypt, the Alchemist guides the Boy toward many things:
  • like talking to his heart
  • people will seldom believe treasures we show them
  • The Alchemist and the Boy are captured by tribesmen who thinks they are spies. The Alchemist promises them that the Boy is a great sorcerer and can be the Wind
  • The Boy spent days trying to become the Wind. Not realising what to do, he ends up talking to the Dessert, the Wind, and the Sun. In their efforts to impress him, the Wind blew more fierce, the Sun shune more.
  • Eventually the boy connected to the Soul of the World - the Universe and he realised that everything was a following a Design. Even know he couldn’t turn himself into the Wind, there was enough Wind that day to convince the tribesmen.
  • The Alchemist took the Boy to a monastery, where he created Gold from Lead and divided into 4 parts - 1 for himself, 1 for the Boy and 2 for the Monk (which incl the 1 to give to the Boy when he returns here). Then he left the Boy
  • Boy found the spot where his heart told him the treasure was but found nothing. Till 3 tribal refugees robbed him, and told him he was stupid for believing in his dream of dream. One of the 3 told the Boy how he too dreamed of treasure in Spain, thereby giving the Boy the real location of the Treasure - the Boy needed to travelled, experienced all he did. He needed to be there, digging, beaten by the refugees to really find his treasure
  • Boy travels back to Spain and got his treasure

Quote

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said: “I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

"The boy could see in his father’s gaze a desire to be able, himself, to travel the world—a desire that was still alive, despite his father’s having had to bury it, over dozens of years, under the burden of struggling for water to drink, food to eat, and the same place to sleep every night of his life."

"When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change."

"Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own."

“That at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”

"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.”

"when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

"when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises."

“Sometimes, there’s just no way to hold back the river"

"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."

"The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there."

"Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place."

“When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.”