Thursday, September 5, 2013

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

Apparently, I'm one of the last people on the planet to hear about this guy or read this book.  Since I've had it from book club, I've told several people what I've been reading and most of them stopped me mid-sentence to gush, "Oh!  I LOVED that book!"  It played part in that strange phenomena, the one where you never hear a particular word/trend/place, but the moment you learn about it you see it EVERYWHERE. That was my experience with this book.  And happily so.

read at your own risk -- consider yourself warned

This book was an answer to prayer.  I believe I am a spiritual person; I have a tendency to see/feel God's love in small ways and "insignificant" things.  I am always deeply touched when I'm blessed with the recognition of God's tender mercies (I like to call them "love notes") in the little ordinary things in life.  I said this book was an answer to prayer, though not a prayer I put into words using my own cognition; it was a prayer that bled from my heart.  There was an unexpected turn of events in the life of my family recently. Not earth-shattering, although heart-breaking.  At the beginning I cried and prayed for days that, selfishly, the event would reverse and things could go back to the way I wanted them.  Then I prayed for understanding, patience, comfort, the ability to have God's grace in my heart so I could exercise forgiveness.  My heart ebbed and flowed with peace and pain, gradual healing mingled with reminders of the sorrow. So when I read the pages of this book, it was not like finding a fill-in-the-blank answer that I'd been hunting for. Rather, it was a calming whisper from my Father in Heaven that He understood my pain, but that He knew I could endure it with His endless love.  I don't understand many things about this universe, but He understands all, and I'm in His watchful care.  I don't know if everyone who reads this book will experience anything similar to what the book did to me.  I would call it a lengthy parable instead of a novel.  But I cannot deny that the very day when I found myself at the lowest low I had experienced in a long time just happened to be the day I cracked open this book, without having an inkling of what it contained inside.  It was a miracle.  And I was filled with love to buoy me through my storm.

I'm not going to tell you what the book is about--I'll let you discover that for yourself.  But I want to share some quotes and passages that were significant to me.

p 47 - It was if the world had fallen silent because the boy's soul had.  He sat there, staring blankly through the door of the cafe, wishing that he had died, and that everything would end forever at that moment.

p 64 - He was actually two hours closer to his treasure...the fact that the two hours had stretched into an entire year didn't matter.

p 69 - "I guess you don't believe a king would talk to someone like me, a shepherd," he said, wanting to end the conversation.

"Not at all.  It was shepherds who were the first to recognize a king that the rest of the world refused to acknowledge.  So, it's not surprising that kings would talk to shepherds."

p 75 - But all this happened for one basic reason:  no matter how many detours and adjustments it made, the caravan moved to the same compass point.  Once obstacles were overcome, it returned to its course, sighting on a start that indicated the location of the oasis.

p 76 - "But that disaster taught me to understand the world 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 or property.  But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand."

p 77 - "Once you go into the desert, there's no going back," said the camel driver.  "And when you can't go back, you have to worry about the best way of moving forward.  The rest is up to Allah, including the danger."

p 85 - "Because I don't live either in 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.  You'll see there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are are part of the human race.  Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we are living right now."

p 87 - Maybe God created the desert so that man could appreciate the date trees.

p 89 - Meanwhile, the boy thought about his treasure.  The closer he got to the realization of his dream, the more difficult things became.  It seemed as if what the old king had called "beginner's luck" was no longer functioning.  In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage.  So he could not be hasty, nor impatient.  If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.

God placed them along my path.  He had surprised himself with the thought.  Until then, he had considered the omens to be things of this world.  Like eating or sleeping, or like seeking love  or finding a job.  He had never thought of them in terms of a language used by God to indicate what he should do.

p 98-99 - "Now, I'm beginning what I could have started ten years ago.  But I'm happy at least I didn't wait twenty years."

p 103 - "The secret is here in the present.  If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it.  And, if you improve upon the present, what comes later will also be better.  Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children.  Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity."

p 115 - "It's not what enters men's mouths that's evil," said the alchemist.  "It's what comes out of their mouths that is."

p 120 - "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."

p 122 - "Don't say anything," Fatima interrupted.  "One is loved because one is loved.  No reason is needed for loving."

p 125 - "Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey."

p 125 - "And what went wrong when other alchemists tried to make gold and were unable to do so?"

"They were only looking for gold," his companion answered.  "They were seeking the treasure of their Personal Legend, without wanting actually to live out the Personal Legend."

p 127 - "The wise men understood that 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.  God created the world so that, through its visible objects, men could understand his spiritual teachings and the marvels of his wisdom.  That's what I mean by action."

p 130 - "Tell your heart that 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."

p 132 - "Every search begins with beginner's luck.  And every search ends with the victor's being severely tested."

p 141 - "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve:  the fear of failure."

p 156 - "'Everything that happens once can never happen again.  But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.'"

No comments:

Post a Comment