Whilst re-reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for the article “To Realize One’s Destiny is a Person’s Only Obligation” I found the interactions and the different ways of learning between the main character, Santiago and the English Man particularly interesting.
At the start of the journey across the desert, Santiago meets an English man who hopes to fulfil his dream of meeting and learning from the Alchemist.
During the journey Santiago spent his time in the caravan (Camel train) learning from fellow travellers, the camel drivers and tuning into his surroundings. The English man on the other hand was focused on his books. For him they were the source of all the knowledge he required.
At one stage of the journey, Santiago borrows the English Man’s books and the English Man tries to learn the desert.
“The boy went back to contemplating the silence of the desert and the sand raised by the animals. Everyone has his or her own way of learning things, he said to himself.”
When the caravan reaches the oasis the English Man is not ready to study under the Alchemist but Santiago is the surprise student.
While academic knowledge and learning is important, we underestimate the importance of connecting to our surroundings and learning from nature.
In the novel the English Man’s nose was always buried in books and nowadays our faces are covered by so called smart phones. Both of these prevent us from connecting to nature, our surroundings and potential friends. The fictional world of Facebook overshadows the beautiful world around us.
People can be so unaware of their surroundings; they put them- selfies in danger. I have seen someone walk in front of a fire engine because the headphones drowned out the sirens and looking at the phone prevented them seeing the lights.
So why is this a problem regarding our spiritual growth? We have five physical senses:
By not fully embracing our awareness of these senses, we have a limited perception of the world around us. If we are not fully engaged in the world around us how can we develop our sixth sense?
Through practising being present in the moment and consciously being aware of our five physical senses, can we open ourselves to the other senses?
While technology can be a great tool that helps us keep connected and up-to-date, what is the flip side?
In my opinion it’s time we put down our phones, held our head up high, see the beauty surrounding us, hear the birds sing and consciously take a deep breathe in fresh air.
Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey