Published in 1993
The Alchemist is a story about a boy named Santiago who goes out on a quest to find a treasure that keeps calling to him in his dreams, a boy to whom ‘knowing the world was more important than knowing God’, so he gives up being a priest, as his parents desired, and becomes a shepherd who travels the world. He lets his dreams, which speak the language of his soul, guide him on his journey from his home in Spain to many mystical experiences in far away lands.
He meets mysterious people who guide him on the way, like a Gypsie in Tarifa, who interprets his dream, and a mysterious old king in a North African market who tells him that ‘the soul of the universe is nourished by people’s happiness…And when you want something, the whole of the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’ Ultimately in the deserts of Egypt he meets an Alchemist who helps him find spiritual enlightenment, and shows him that his soul and that of the world is the same, and when one follows one’s heart with persistence and without being distracted by the comforts of the world or fears of the mind, is when one finds his destiny, his treasure.
Paulo Coelho, in a very mystical way, talks about the common thread of energy running through various beings and things, like the surreal connection between Santiago and his sheep. Paulo often uses simple metaphors to describe complex human conditions and struggles, and with the same simplicity of his writing, he moves on to tell tales of how the universe gives everyone signs and omens, and how paying the The Language of the World its due heed makes all the difference in how well you know yourself and the universe, which in turn decides how happy you are. Such writing makes one stop and ponder about the reality of one’s life.
To me this book is a source of inspiration to rise beyond accustomed grounds, and follow my heart’s desire. It tells that even though our attachments tug at our heart to ‘make us forget the joys of carefree wandering’, we ought to wander and follow our heart and our dreams. For it’s the possibility of a dream coming true that makes life interesting.’
A lovely read to be inspired, or to get familiar with the mystical concept of how every element of the universe is connected, and hence every sign in the universe is decipherable if one has the clarity and belief. A must read for those who believe in or are intrigued by the driving power of love and the language of the heart.