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Top 12 quotes from “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho

Wisdom from the classic tale of self-discovery

Mel Hattie
Mel Hattie
3 min read
Top 12 quotes from “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is Paulo Coelho's famous allegorical novel, first published in 1988 in Brazil. It follows Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd, as he makes his way to Egypt, following his dream of finding treasure there.

The Alchemist has been translated into more than 70 languages and has inspired people for decades. Its message of following your heart and finding meaning in life has resonated with thousands (if not millions) of people.

After re-reading the book last week, I wanted to share some of my favourite quotes that capture the book's essence.

The first thing I highlighted was this excerpt from Coelho's lovely forward to the 25th Anniversary Edition, published in 2014:

“Wherever I go, people understand me. They understand my soul. This continues to give me hope. When I read about clashes around the world — political clashes, economic clashes, cultural clashes — I am reminded that it is within our power to build a bridge to be crossed.

Even if my neighbour doesn’t understand my religion or my politics, he can understand my story. If he can understand my story, then he’s never too far from me. It is always within my power to build a bridge.

There is always a chance for reconciliation, a chance that one day he and I will sit around a table together and put an end to our history of clashes. And on this day, he will tell me his story and I will tell him mine.”

I hope these quotes are useful to you, whether you're looking for personal inspiration or writing a paper.

Here are my top 12 quotes from “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho, in chronological order with page numbers

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised.

“It is this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.20
“Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.23
“To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.24
“You dream about your sheep and the Pyramids, but you’re different from me, because you want to realize your dreams. I just want to dream about Mecca. I’ve already imagined a thousand times crossing the desert, arriving at the Plaza of the Sacred Stone, the seven times I walk around it before allowing myself to touch it. I’ve already imagined the people who would be at my prayers we would share. But I’m afraid that it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer just to dream about it.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.57
“He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision. ” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.70
“There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.129
“And what went wrong when the other alchemists tried to make gold and were unable to do so”

“They were only looking for gold,” his companion answered. “They were seeking the treasure of their Personal Legend, without wanting actually to live out the Personal Legend.”— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.129
“But men began to reject simple things, and to write tracts, interpretations, and philosophical studies.”— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.130
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.”— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.134
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.134
“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.135
“When men are at war with one another, the Soul of the World can hear the screams of battle. No one fails to suffer the consequences of everything under the sun.”— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, p.140