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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

RATING: 9/10…READ: September 27, 2012

A simple parable with simple characters, and many will criticize its literary merits. Nonetheless the lesson of this book, although a bit hokey, connected with me. Irrespective of religion, it made me see the beauty that is God and the connectedness of all things sacred in life. You’ll probably either love this book or hate it.

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People from all over the world have passed through this village, son,” said his father. “They come in search of new things, but when they leave they are basically the same people they were when they arrived. They climb the mountain to see the castle, and they wind up thinking that the past was better than what we have now.

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

It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and your will, because 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.

The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.

The sheep had taught him something even more important: that there was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. It was the language of enthusiasm of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed and desired.

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.

That disaster taught me to understand the word of Allah: people need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want. We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.

–“Why do they make things so complicated?” he asked the Englishman one night. The boy had noticed that the Englishman was irritable, and missed his books.

–“So that those who have the responsibility for understanding can understand,” he said. “Imagine if everyone went around transforming lead into gold. Gold would lose its value. “It’s only those who are persistent, and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the Master Work.”

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 tribesman 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.

I don’t know why these things have to be transmitted by word of mouth, he thought. It wasn’t exactly that they were secrets; God revealed his secrets easily to all his creatures. He had only one explanation for this fact: things have to be transmitted this way because they were made up from the pure life, and this kind of life cannot be captured in pictures or words.  Because people become fascinated with pictures and words, and wind up forgetting the Language of the World.

“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.”

“I’m a desert woman, and I’m proud of that. I want my husband to wander as free as the wind that shapes the dunes. And, if I have to, I will accept the fact that he has become part of the clouds, and the animals, and the water of the desert.”

As the camel driver had said, to die tomorrow was no worse than dying on any other day. Every day was there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world. Everything depended on one word: “Maktub.”

Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World.

Life attracts life.

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.

“There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action.”

“I’m an alchemist simply because I’m an alchemist,” he said, as he prepared his meal. “I learned the science from my grandfather, who learned from his father, and so on, back to the creation of the world. In those times, the Master Work could be written simply on an emerald. But men began to reject simply things, and to write tracts, interpretations, and philosophical studies. They also began to feel that they knew a better way than others had. Yet the Emerald Tablet is still alive today.

–“My heart is a traitor,” the boy said to the alchemist, when they had paused to rest the horses. “It doesn’t want me to go on.”

–“That makes sense,” the alchemist answered. “Naturally it’s afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you won.”

–“Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?”

–Because you will never again to be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.”

++”My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

++”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.”

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

Your eyes show the strength of your soul.

I [the sun] know that if I came even a little bit closer to the earth, everything there would die, and the Soul of the World would no longer exist. So we contemplate each other, and we want each other, and I give it life and warmth, and it gives me my reason for living.

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.

–“But this payment goes well beyond my generosity,” the monk responded.”

–“Don’t say that again. Life might be listening, and give you less the next time.”

Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.