I came across the book ‘The Alchemist’ when I was on a ‘soul-searching’ trip in Vietnam. I was in a noodle shop when a man I just befriended showed me the book he read on the mountain top that morning — The Alchemist.
At that point, I’ve heard of the book but haven’t read it yet. So I thought, maybe, I should check it out.
I read the ebook throughout the rest of my journey in Vietnam, tear a lot in the process because I saw myself in the main character. We have to go through tough challenges to find our treasure. I felt understood.
Dubbed in the fiction of a boy pursuing his dream to find his treasure, ‘The Alchemist’ is a spiritual book in its core. In the process of finding the treasure, the boy was robbed 3 times, almost lost his life twice, and at the end of it, he found his treasure at the exact spot where he began the journey.
Throughout the book, the themes that appear consistently are destiny (one’s written path), omen (sign) and the soul of universe (higher intelligent governing all things).
There is a popular quote from ‘The Alchemist’ that probably becomes bigger than the book itself — ‘when you want something, all of the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it’.
Amazed by how the book found its way to me, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, at the right time and the right place.
Follow your intuition
“Making a decision was only the beginning of things…when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward”
Because of a book sharing event, I dug into the story of the author, Paolo Coelho, and found that he wrote this international best-selling book in just 2 weeks!
He said, ‘this book is in my soul.’
From the age of 17–20, Paolo Coelho was institutionalized by his Catholic parents when he expressed his desire to be a writer. He realized his destiny as an author in the 80s despite a few decades of delay. Knowing the backstory, I see how this book echoed with the author’s journey.
Through the book, the author delivers the message that everyone has a destiny or a calling to fulfil, everyone has a choice whether to pursue it or not. The omen (sign) will keep appearing to remind you, or to guide you, and you have a choice whether to acknowledge it or not.
Sometimes, you are driven by a life force that you can’t explain in words, that would seem absurd from people’s view, but you have to trust in yourself because you are the only one who understands it.
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘and those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music’.
“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen 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.”
This passage still hit me in my third reading of ‘The Alchemist’. Being present is something so easy to understand and yet so hard to be.
Every time I left a silent meditation retreat or came back from a self-discovery trip, I was filled with love, abundance and the belief to serve the world.
However, as I immersed myself in my day-to-day life, ego and desire caught up with me, I found myself trapped in wanting more and feeling frustrated for not making thing happen fast enough.
I am not a saint, but it is important to consistently remind myself that life is a grand festival right here, right now. Have fun and appreciate the journey I’ve come along.
You have the strength in you
“The world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse.”
After starting a community platform from scratch and engaging a talented team to run it together without any external resources, I learned many lessons about changing the world.
Changing the world starts with changing ourselves, and everyone has the power to do it.
When I change my perspective and action, the world I see is malleable, the things I do will create ripple effects that extend beyond my imagination.
People can tell me everything that is true to them. When I put myself out there, I will find my tribe and my path to reach my destination, and that eventually becomes my truth.
The end is the beginning
It is fascinating that in ‘The Alchemist’, the boy found his treasure at the exact spot where he dreamt about it.
The idea of ‘the end is the beginning’ is consistent with many wise men’s work.
In the 40th verse of Tao De Jing, Lao Tzu said, “Returning is the movement of the Tao. ”
The poet T.S. Eliot has a quote, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Maybe, life is a returning journey.
Maybe, we will spend years and decades chasing our treasure, accolades, fame, wealth, recognition, and come back to where we began, to realise that the most important thing is the thing we are born with, deep in our core.
In his book, ‘The End is My Beginning’, Tiziano Terzani said, “We should all ask ourselves — if what we are doing improves and enriches our lives. Or have we all … lost the instinct for what life should be: first and foremost, an opportunity to be happy.”
Maybe, the root of happiness is already in us. It is up to us to see the world, make a small dent, come back to where we began, to see our root for the first time with all that we are, all that we have.