Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist tells the story of Santiago, the shepherd boy, who set out to discover a treasure that would forever keep him happy. In his dreams Santiago was told about that treasure – hidden somewhere in a very distant exotic and mysterious land. But the journey would not be smooth. The great desert, where danger lurks around, had to be crossed. Local ballads sung stories of brave souls who attempted and never returned. Then there are bandits who would rob and kill anyone who cross their path. But those challenges did not deter him for he knew such a treasure could make him happy forever. He sold his sheep and began his journey. On the way he met people, did business, fell in love, fought war and found the Alchemist, who holds the key to that secret. Finally he reached the mysterious place only to found out, after much digging, that there was no such treasure. The realization dawned on him. The treasure was never kept hidden in the caves of Egypt or in the busy streets of Cairo. That kind of treasure did never really exist. This world could never have such a treasure. He could never found it outside because the treasure, the source of his happiness, lay buried within himself. He always had it within himself. He only needs to know how to dig within himself. And no Alchemist could do that for him. He had to do it himself.
In fact, in a way, all of us are Santiagos..searching for that ‘Treasure’ outside among names and forms, travel in great length, encounter troubles and hardships, in the hope to get hold of that ‘thing’ which would wipe out our miseries and relieve us from our painful existence forever. Searching for something permanent and everlasting in this transient world. Sometimes we come across, on the way, a bright glittering stone. We grab it with frenzy and hold it so dear to our heart, convinced that this is indeed that Treasure which will quench the thirst of our heart for everlasting peace, pleasure, happiness and satisfaction. We start to enjoy it’s warmth, the pleasure it invokes in our senses. It begin to sooth our troubling mind with peace and tenderness. We push back, into some remote corner of our mind, that ever lingering sense of uncertainty, insecurity. We feel at the top of the world and we sleep soundly. Then one morning we wake up with a heavy gloomy heart realizing that familiar sense of uncertainty, that insecurity has returned. The stone has lost it’s brightness, it’s glittering has gone.
In desperation and hope we start our search again. On the way we come across many who claim themselves as “the Alchemist”, the one who possess the secret knowledge of the treasure. Some of these wise looking ones dressed in three piece suits and carry laptops. Some of them have long white beard, adorn beads around their neck, hands and carry a bundle of books. They confidently map the way for us and offer their expertise, most of the time with a price tag. We buckle up and travel through their way. We trek through Wall streets, climb the peaks of mighty Himalayas, looking inside every glass doors and caves for the treasure. Then somewhere in the middle of the desert, under the fire star, when every one feel tired, thirsty and lost, they tell us, “ ….sorry I thought this was the way, at least that was what my computer calculated for me…that was what I read from my ancient book of wisdom….I am not very sure now”.