How Much of This Book to Accept?


Yesterday I finished the bestseller by Brazilian author Paulo Cuelho entitled The Alchemist (1988 and English version 1993)

There are some legitimate undercurrents of Bible truth in this allegory about one's fate, but also a pile of seemingly New Age Universal Consciousness. The author claims that on a lengthy walking pilgrimmage in northwestern Spain he was blessed with a self-awareness and a spirital awakening described in his book The Pilgrimmage. Ideas are extended in The Alchemist, and they focus upon keenly following your dream, as if the whole universe conspires benevolently through life experience and omens to see your dream accomplished.

A shepherd boy in Andalusia (Spain) has carved out a successful livelihood, knowing the flock, the trails, the weather, the market towns and beautiful Spanish girls. But he is restless. A recurring dream only increases the ennui, as it speaks to a treasure to be found at the base of the Egyptian pyramids. The boy goes to a fortune teller to try to get more details, and later encounters a strange old man calling himself Melchizedek and proclaiming himself King of Salem. This man corroborates the impressions....and the journey has begun.

Sell the sheep; cross near Gibraltar; lose all his funds to a thief; come into the employ of a crystal merchant who has dreams of a pilgrimmage to Mecca; set out into the Sahara with an Englishman hungry for the art of alchemy; coming to rest in an oasis; meeting the love of his life; meeting the Great Alchemist; having a miraculous and tribe-saving dream; weaving through tribal warfare and a threat to his life which requires that "he change himself into the wind" to prove his talents; discovering the pyramids and then the treasure.

Cuelho suggests that there are 4 considerations in following one's dream;
1) In our upbringing we are told that everything we want to do is impossible.
2) We suspect that somehow our life-changing dream will hurt the ones we love.
3) For a time adverse conditions and setbacks create a debilitating fear until our resolve breaks through. "The secret of life is to fall seven times and get up eight times."
4)On the threshold of success we begin to suspect that somehow the dream is wrong for us.

I cannot take exception to these four points. The Bible refers to pivotal dreams on many occasions.

Along the way the author alludes to Six Creation Days, to Joseph, to Melchizedek, to Abraham, to Jesus "Son of God" and to the story of the Roman Centurion whose faith astounded the Master. (Luke 7)

Other terms of reference include the Universal Language, the Soul of the World, the Personal Legend and The Hand That Wrote All. (frighteningly syncretic)

So, again I say, what to accept; what to suspect? It cannot just be taken as a piece of fiction. It is meant to inspire and to guide. That is why I issue the caution. I will read the book again.

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