Quotes from “The Alchemist” by Paul Coelho

The Alchemist is an allegorical novel by Paulo Coelho first published in 1988. The Alchemist was originally written in Portuguese. It has sold more than 65 million copies in more than 150 countries, becoming one of the best-selling books in history.
The Alchemist details the journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago. Santiago, believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, decides to travel to the pyramids of Egypt to find treasure. On the way, he encounters love, danger, opportunity, disaster and learns a lot about himself and the ways of the world. One of the significant characters that he meets is an old king who tells him about discovering his personal legend: what he always wanted to accomplish in his life. And that "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." This is the core philosophy and motto of the book. 

What is a personal calling? It is God's blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don't all have the courage to confront our own dream.

There are four obstacles. First: we are told from childhood onwards that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it's still there.

If we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue their dream. We do not realize that love is just a further impetus, not something that will prevent them going forwards. We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.

Once we have accepted that love is a stimulus, we come up against the third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dream, suffer far more when it doesn't work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: "Oh, well, I didn't really want it anyway."

We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of the personal calling is no easier than any other path, except that our whole heart is in this journey. 

Having disinterred our dream, having used the power of love to nurture it and spent many years living with the scars, we suddenly notice that what we always wanted is there, waiting for us, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives.

This is the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World and you understand why you are here.

Some of the memorable quotes in the book:
  • It's the possibility of having a dream come true that make life interesting.

  • 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.

  • If you start out by promising what you don't even have yet, you'll lose your desire to work toward getting it.

  • Every search begins with beginners luck and ends with the victor's being severely tested. 

  • 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.

  • In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens.
    God has prepared a path for everyone to follow.
    You just have to read the omens that he left you.

  • Don't forget that everything you deal with is only one thing and nothing else.
    And don't forget the language of omens.
    And, above all, don't forget to follow your destiny through to its conclusion.

  • There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

  • And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

  • When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.   

  • I don't live in either my past or my future. I'm interested only in the present.
    If you can concentrate always on the present, you'll be a happy man.
    Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we're living now.   

  • When you are loved, you can do anything in creation.
    When you are loved, there's no need at all to understand what's happening, because everything happens within you.

  • 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.   

  • People learn early in their lives what is their reason for being. Maybe that's why they give up on it so early, too.

  • 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.

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