One thing every human has in common is the journey of life. Whether you believe in choice or destiny, the Bible, the Quran or the Torah, every one of us will have a “mission” to live. In Paulo Coelho’s novel, The Alchemist, the journey has become more important than the destination. The lessons and experiences that Santiago leaves along the way become more valuable than the actual pursuit of his “Personal Legend.” The main character of the novel, Santiago, is a shepherd boy following his personal legend and in the process he meets many wise people who help him as he continues his journey. In the following paragraphs, it will be noted how fate, dreams and spirituality affect the journey or the personal legend. Firstly, how fate guides and shapes the personal legend of Santiago.
Secondly, the impact and insight that dreams contribute to it. And finally, how spirituality and the process of purification take one from an unevolved to a spiritually enlightened being in life. Fate is a central tenet in Santiago’s journey. The struggle between a pre-destined outcome versus personal free will are resolved when Santiago learns that both actually exist in synchrony. The following passage from part two of the book takes place when Santiago was with the Englishman and he realized that the journey seemed pointless.
The Alchemist states: “The Englishman was disappointed. It seemed he had made the long journey for nothing. The boy was also saddened; his friend was in pursuit of his Personal Legend.
And, when someone was in such pursuit, the entire universe made an effort to help him succeed—that’s what the old king had said. He couldn’t have been wrong.” (Coelho, 2.
243) This quote explains the connection between fate and personal legends Santiago is feeling discouraged because the englishman did not succeed in following his personal legend and the universe did not help him like king said it would. Santiago and the englishman are in the process of learning they are on the road of spiritual enlightenment. Similarly, Carl Jung, the “founder of analytical psychology,” said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl Jung) He is iterating that one must make purposeful choices in one’s life in order to control or work with one’s destiny. Carl Jung’s statement simplifies the theory of fate in the novel, he explains that everyone has free will and has the power to make a choice that decision will control one’s fate the englishman’s choices led him to a pointless journey. If Santiago makes the right choices during his journey to the pyramids he can reach his personal legend. The next theme that colours Santiago’s personal legend is “dreams.” In this case, Santiago learns how dreams, as aspirations, are born from an intangible place and become his life’s work.
As seen in the following quote stated by King Melchizedek, “Whoever you are, or whatever, it is you do, when you really want something, it’s because that’s desire Originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.” (Coelho,134) In other words, a person’s life mission, or dream, comes from a place far greater than the individual and is correct and will be supported on all levels due to it’s sublime nature. King Melchizedek is the first spiritual guide who is introduced in the novel. His belief is that dreams and legends are a way of connecting the two spiritual worlds.
King Melchizedek breaks down the significance of understanding a dream and knowing what to do with it, he tells Santiago that the universe cannot be ignored especially if it is trying to communicate with him. This is very important to Santiago’s journey because it helps him understand that his dreams are not silly and to be taken seriously in order to continue his journey. In a James Grotstein paper on dream interpretation he states, “He who makes the dream understandable, he is the one who makes use of the dream narrative to explore himself and the dilemma, which stimulated the dream.” (Grotstein, 2) Grotstein explains that if people know what their dreams mean, or if they understand them, that the dreams may help them to discover something about themselves or why they have these dreams, especially if it is a recurring dream like Santiago’s. During Santiago’s journey he meets many people like King Melchizedek who help him to interpret dreams, once he found the true meaning of his dreams he feels more encouraged to continue his journey. Finally, the impact that spirituality has on Santiago’s personal legend is of prime importance.
The practice of alchemy is both a technical and spiritual tool that helps Santiago to understand spiritual purification. As he observes alchemy, he makes a connection as illustrated in the following passage stated by The Alchemist: “The alchemists spent years in their laboratories, observing the fire that purified the metals. They spent so much time close to the fire that they gradually gave up that vanities of the world.” (Coelho, 83) Alchemy is the process of solve et coagula latin for solve is a practice that revolves around breaking down metals removing its imperfections and purifying it by coagula putting it back together. The alchemist uses the alchemists as references while explaining the importance of purification to santiago he tells him to remove all unwanted tension just the the alchemist when the gave up all “the vanities of the world”