"Many have said of Alchemy that it is for the making of gold and silver.
For me, such is not the aim, but to consider only what
virtue and power may lie in medicines."
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. To garner such attention, does it provide the secret of how to turn base metal into gold or tell of a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely? After all, these are the two principles upon which alchemy is founded.
Perhaps the book doesn’t literally tell how to spin gold, but it does outline a path on how to find gold in your own life by following your true and personal calling. Coehlo tells us that is the reason we are put on Earth. However, as man moves to accomplish this goal, he throws obstacles in his own path so he won’t succeed. It seems he can’t get out of his own way.
Coehlo puts forth that there are four obstacles hindering the path towards personal fulfillment.
1. As young children, we are told that anything is possible. Believing this, children dream about what they want to be when they grow up. However, as we grow (and supposedly get socialized), the messages change, and we are told the reasons why our dream, or personal calling, is impossible to attain. It gets buried under the word "No!" as well as prejudice, fear and guilt.
2. If we are able to burrow our way through negativity and have the courage to still pursue our personal calling, we run into the second obstacle, which is love. This seems counterintuitive because love should set us free to evolve into our highest self. However, once ensconced in a life with loved ones, those bonds tie us down to the life we are leading. Ultimately, we become afraid we might lose the people we love and the possessions we have come to love, if we pursue our dream.
3. If the second obstacle can be reconciled and we use love as an impetus, rather than an impediment, we run into the third obstacle, which is fear of defeat. However, defeat, or loss, is often a necessary component of ultimate success. It teaches us lessons that make us stronger, thus allowing us to finally accomplish our goals. At times, loss also helps us refine a personal calling. So, if you are able to overcome hardship and channel it in a positive manner, this inspires you onward with gusto.
4. If you fall down seven times, but get up eight, as the wise saying instructs, then you move closer towards your goal. And now we encounter the fourth obstacle, which is a fear of success. The possibility of attaining our personal goals can make us question whether or not we are deserving of such good fortune. This elicits guilt, which is the most useless of all our emotions. We must reflect back upon the hard work that we have done to get to this point. It was not an overnight success and we ARE worthy. Without this acknowledgement, it is very easy to self-sabotage and let the “prize” slip from our grasp. Facing failure, we may try to blame outside sources, but there is only one responsible party: YOU! Until this fact is faced and accepted, success will continue to be elusive.
The truth is that everyone can reach his/her personal calling and find success and love in his/her life with hard work and acceptance of self-worthiness. Keep in mind, though, it doesn’t always come in the form in which you expect or think you want. Be open to the universe, and it will answer back with its bounties.
I recommend a full reading of The Alchemist, a short read that is under 175 pages.