The Alchemist Excerpt: The 4 Obstacles

Regarding my post from the other day, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho has to be one of my Top 5 books I’ve ever read. It is also one of those books that just tends to land in people’s laps. I’ve heard many a story and have my own on how people end up with this book.

My boyfriend’s cousin suggested it to me a few years ago when I had mentioned “The Secret” to her. She was telling me if I was into that, then I would love “The Alchemist”. I’ll admit the title did not sound to appealing to me so I did not really give it any though. I had no clue what an Alchemist was…it just sounded like something Chemistry related haha. A few years later I had probably heard the title mentioned a few more times by different people, including on my favorite blog. Do you think I ran to the store then to get it? No! Well this January I was at my boyfriend’s cousins house for a birthday party (yes, same cousin that first mentioned it to me) and she had the book on her dining room table. It was a lot smaller than I had imagined so I decided to finally pick it up and see what it was about. I became intrigued and read like 40 pages on her couch in the middle of the party. The only reason I stopped is because we were leaving. I mentioned to her how I guess I have to go get the book now. She says “wait hold on” and she went out to her car and came back with a gift. It was the book and she said I could have it. She said that she likes it so much and thinks that everyone should read it so when she sees it she buys it and keeps it to give to people. When I opened the gift it had  a gift receipt inside from 2010 which meant she had been holding this particular one for a few years. I guess it was waiting for ME!! It was perfect timing because if I had read this book any sooner than I did I probably would not have been as interested or understood it the way I do now. I just was not as deep into self growth as I am now. I suggest if it ever comes your way, it is for a reason and meant to be so READ IT!!!

Here’s is an excerpt from the prologue written by Paulo Coelho:

Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don’t all have the courage to confront our own dream.


There are four obstacles.

First: we are told from childhood that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear, and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there.

If we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream. We do not realize that love is just a further impetus, not something that will prevent us going forward. We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.

Once we have accepted that love is a stimulus, we come up against the third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn’t work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: “Oh, well, I didn’t really want it anyway.” We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of the personal calling is no easier than any other path, except that our whole heart is in this journey.

Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.

I ask myself: are defeats necessary?

Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and get up eight times.

So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people?

Because, once we have overcome the defeats—and we always do—we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives.

Having disinterred our dream, having used the power of love to nurture it and spent many years living with the scars, we suddenly notice that what we always wanted is there, waiting for us, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives.

Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.”

And it’s true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal—when it was only a step away.

This is the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.”

This part of the book is very intriguing to me because it resonates in my heart deeply. I have witnessed these obstacles in myself and in friend’s lives. So take what resonates in yours and if it moves you, who knows, maybe this post is the SIGN you need to get the book.


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