As one of the top rated, most read, most talked about and most translated books in history, The Alchemist also happens to be the hardest book to come across. I had been looking for it for so many years and every time I asked a seller why they don’t have it, they’d lie that they had just sold out of.
The novel is about a young shepherd (Santiago) from Andalusia whose recurrent dream about finding a hidden treasure near the Egyptian Pyramids causes him to leave behind his sheep, family and continent in pursuit of his destiny. The intended short visit to Africa is lengthened when he’s robbed and has to find alternative ways to survive, as well as meet other individuals who helps in preparing him for what lays ahead.
However, it's the last bit of the book that makes it what it's best known for - the greatest book in history (no need for spoilers).
Life Teachings from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist:
#1. Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them-the path to their destinies, 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.
#2. Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because its evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we 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.’
#3. Why it’s good to not go to fortune tellers: If good things are coming, they will be a pleasant surprise. If bad things are, and you know in advance, you will suffer greatly before they even occur. …but, 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.
#4. When someone sees the same people every day, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.
#5. Making a decision is 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.
#6. 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.
$7. This natural world is only an image and a copy of paradise - the existence of this world is simply a guarantee that there exists a world that is perfect.
#8. No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally, he doesn’t know it.
#9. Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.
#10. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
Quotes from The Alchemist:
- When every 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.
- People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or they’ll be unable to achieve them.
- A shepherd always takes his chances with wolves and with drought, and that’s what makes a shepherd’s life exciting.
- People learn, early in their lives, what is their reason for being…maybe that’s why they give up on it so early too.
- Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.
- It’s only those who are persistent, and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the Master Work.
- The closer one gets to realizing his destiny, the more that destiny becomes his true reason for being.
- People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want.
- It’s not what enters men’s mouth that’s evil. It’s what comes out of their mouths that is.
- Anyone who interferes with the destiny of another thing will never discover his own.
- There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
- When you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favor.
- It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.
- Every day is there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world.
- Usually, the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives.
- No one fails to suffer the consequences of everything under the sun.
- In money there’s magic; whoever has money is never really alone.
- No heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.
- It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.
- The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.
- Your eyes show the strength of your soul.
- Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.
The Alchemist, which is basically a novel about following one’s destiny, is pretty easy and short so you can get done in a day or two - though you should take longer to absorb all the teachings.