The Source of All Knowledge

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:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Touch

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

“To Realize One’s Destiny is a Person’s Only Obligation.”

Dartmoor, England

This line is on the back cover of my favourite book- The Alchemist

The author Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian who originally wrote the book in Portuguese. It has been translated into many different languages and sold over 65 million copies. It is claimed that The Alchemist was written in only two weeks in 1987. He explained he was able to write at this pace because the story was “already written in [his] soul.”

As this book works on a soul level, every time it is read, the story has different impact.

I first read the Alchemist when I was in my early twenties and was leaving New Zealand to explore the world. At this time the focus of the book for me was the shepherd boy named Santiago following his dreams, selling his flock and searching for his treasure.

During his adventure Santiago meets The Alchemist at an oasis in the Sahara Desert. Until I read this book I had never heard of an alchemist or alchemy. As the years have passed by and the pages have been re-read, Alchemy has become an interest. Not the idea of turning lead into gold, the search for the Elixir of Life or the Philosophers Stone but the purification of one’s self. Surely nothing could be more valuable.

When I was looking for a name for this blog, I remembered The Alchemist and the profound effect it had on me. One of my other passions is travel. It is often said that life is about the journey not the destination. This is how the title of the blog came about – The Alchemist’s Journey. In essence the journey towards one’s true self.

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey



Whilst writing this blog I re-read The Alchemist after a couple of years. This following exert jumped out at me and would have been perfect for the blog entitled KISS.

The Alchemist is telling Santiago about alchemy. “I learned the science from my grandfather, who learned from his father and so on, back to the creation of the world. In those times, the Master Work could be written simply on an emerald. But men began to reject simple things and write tracts, interpretations and philosophical studies.”