Cheat Sheet: The Alchemist

Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.


1998 novel by Paulo Coelho written in only two weeks and selling in excess of 65 million copies in 67 languages.

Simplistic, it’s more fable than novel. Themes include destiny, hope, risk-taking, determination, journey and love.

Given to me by a special person on my journey from Melbourne to New York to follow my own destiny.


  • Personal Legend. What you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
  • Principle of Favourability. Beginner’s luck. Because life wants to achieve your destiny.
  • Urim and Thummim. From the Bible, stones used to divine the will of God.
  • Esperanto. Constructed international language created in 1880s.
  • Alchemy. Solid: Philosopher’s Stone (transmute base metals to gold). Liquid: Elixir of Life (eternal life).
  • Symbols: Crystal glassware (fragility, clarity), desert (obstacles), gold (knowledge, work), oasis (life, love), shepherd/sheep (ordinary lives), Urim and Thummim (omens), thieves (shortcuts to destiny), water (life), well (unconditional love).


“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 is the world’s greatest lie.”
“When every day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognise the good things that happen in their lives every day the sun rises.”
“The Gods should not have desires, because they don’t have destinies.”
“He could sense whether a person was near to or far from his destiny. Just by looking at them. It’s easy.”
“Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.”
“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”
“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.”
“If you can concentrate always on the present, you’l be a happy man.”
“The Language of the World. It was love. Something older than humanity, older than the deserts.”
“And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only.”
“You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love.”
“The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”
“Then you’ll die in the midst of trying to realise your destiny. That’s a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never even knew what their destinies were. But don’t worry, usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives.”
“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”
“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
“I try to find good questions and not good answers.”
Paulo Coelho


“What do you want to be your epitaph?”
I answered: “I will be cremated, but if I ever had an epitaph, it would be:
‘ Paulo Coelho died while he was alive.’”
The person said “Why this epitaph? Everybody dies when he or she is alive.”
I said, “No, this is not true. If the same pattern is repeated over and over again, you are not alive anymore. To die alive is to take risks. To pay your price.”
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