Essay on Fate in 'The Alchemist'

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What are the Odds? What happens when coincidences occur that seem too incredible to be true? Coincidences are defined as, “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” These coincidences are considered to be random and meaningless events that happen in our lives; they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Paulo Coelho, however, shows in The Alchemist that some of the coincidences that occur during a shepherd’s quest to find “treasure” are connected not only to each other but to the “Soul of the Universe,” the metaphysical entity that is intertwined with all of life and the reason why everything in life is connected.

Santiago, a young shepherd boy, had a recurring dream at the base of a sycamore tree in a sacristy that if he were to go to the Egyptian pyramids, he would find treasure (Coelho 15-16). It was only until he met the “old king” and was given two stones used for divination, Urim and Thummim, and advice to watch out for the “omens” that he decided to venture out to the desert to find that treasure and pursue his “personal legend” (Coelho 32-33). Already, the reader can see that Santiago isn’t on a strict timeline: he’s made every action thus far on a whim.

After spending over eleven months on the road, he stopped at a large caravan loading site to prepare for his voyage through the desert to the pyramids and met a man referred to as the “Englishman.” During their initial encounter, it was revealed that he too had Urim and Thummim stones and that he was looking for a man named the “alchemist,” who turned out to be the exact person Santiago needed to find as well (Coelho 71-73). There had to be an outside force that acted on this unlikely, but important, meeting. The Englishman even told Santiago that “it was no coincidence that he had met [the Englishman] with Urim and Thummim in his hand,” himself (Coelho 73). It took over eleven months for Santiago to get to the caravan. Multiple caravans went through the desert and over two hundred people that Santiago could have sat next to and met during his journey. The odds of him getting to the same caravan on the same day as the Englishman, finding him out of two hundred people in the place, and letting the Englishman see Urim and Thummim that day to start their journey together are extremely low; these two people had to be connected in some way to allow this meeting to happen.

Santiago spent most of those months in his journey beforehand working for a crystal merchant until one random day he got the urge to leave to continue pursuing his “Personal Legend.” He could have left any other day during that span and not have found the Englishman, ending the journey towards his Personal Legend. The fact that everything happened how it did shows that those coincidences were not just coincidences: they were fated events that had a direct impact on Santiago’s life. Santiago and the Englishman were connected for this journey, along with all that led up to the meeting.

An even more remarkable “coincidence” occurred when Santiago finally made it through the desert and arrived at the pyramids. Finding a scarab beetle digging itself into the sand, and remembering the alchemist’s teaching that proved to him that “life attracts life” (Coelho 120), Santiago started to dig at the same spot where the scarab was located. After digging for a while, a few refugees from the tribal wars beat him and stole his gold. Before leaving, one of the refugees chastised Santiago for following crazy dreams and mentioned that he too had a recurrent dream a couple of years before at this exact spot where, “there was a sycamore tree growing out of the ruins of the sacristy, and [he] was told that, if [he were to dig] at the roots of the sycamore, [he] would find a hidden treasure” (Coelho 167-168). This location was exactly where Santiago was when he had his recurrent dream, and after Santiago went back there and dug at the base of the sycamore tree, he found a buried treasure chest. Here, Santiago and the refugee were connected through their dreams. The refugee, while trying to dismiss his dream, ended up in the location of his dream while Santiago was there; the refugee was meant to travel by that spot to tell Santiago where to go to finish his Legend. Their dreams were created for each other and connected through the Soul of the Universe.

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Dr. Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, didn’t believe these incredible coincidences were random events; they were more of a phenomenon than anything. Jung defines these phenomena as “events at a human scale that are rare or unique, and so nonreproducible, [that put] them outside the purview of science” (Cambray 11). He placed all of these phenomena under the general term of “synchronicity”: “the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” These events Santiago went through were certainly related but didn’t cause each other to happen, exhibiting a synchronicity trait and indicating that there is something larger to them than mere coincidence.

The idea of synchronicity shows that there may be a larger purpose for those incredible coincidences we experience. All of what Santiago went through led him to find the treasure; if one thing changed, he may never have found his treasure at the end. If he hadn’t found the Englishman, he would never have known to look for the alchemist: the man who virtually led him along his path to find his Legend. If Santiago hadn’t met the refugee from the tribal war who just happened to be crossing the pyramids at the same time and wasn’t told about his dream, then he never would have completed his Legend. As Santiago noted, “Intuition is a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected” (Coelho 76-77). Santiago and the Englishman felt that intuition to meet when they did, which is when they were supposed to meet. Coelho showed that everyone who influenced Santiago along his journey was connected and that they all worked together in their ways to guide Santiago along his course, whether they knew it consciously or not.

This concept of synchronicity doesn’t explain why those rare and incredible occurrences happen, however, only that they are not coincidences. The element of life that connects everything in it together and the concept that “life attracts life,” as Coelho puts it (120), is in the ethereal realm. Coelho conveys this idea when describing one of the main climaxes of Santiago’s quest to reach out to the elements around him to turn himself into the wind. As Santiago reached out to the “hand that wrote all,” or God, “the boy understood that the desert, the wind, and the sun were also trying to understand the signs written by the hand, and were seeking to follow their paths,” and then realized that he had “reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was a part of the Soul of God. And he [then] saw that the Soul of God was his soul” (Coelho 156-157). Santiago realized that everything in life was connected through the Soul of the World, a part of God, and thus a part of ourselves. Coelho is saying that we are all connected through these metaphysical entities.

Proving that we are all connected in life has yet to be done, as it’s more of a metaphysical thought stream than anything else so far, but the “Global Consciousness Project,” or GCP, shows a logical conclusion that there may be something there. The GCP is a collaboration project from scientists around the world that have linked random-number generators where one displays a “1” or a “0” and another tries to guess the outcome. Comparing it to a coin-toss, the probability of the generator guessing the number is around 50/50, however when world events happen that link people across the globe, the generators start to connect better with themselves, and the probability of one guessing the correct letter increases an incredible amount (Nelson). This experiment shows that there is a field of consciousness that exists when we come together as people, shown more prominently when world events happen, that affects the world around us; we can be interconnected, even though we are mostly trying to live our lives independent of each other.

Events that happen that are too extraordinary to be passed off as mere coincidences happen for a reason, and they happen because we are all connected in life. The GCP experiment shows that there is a field of energy that can affect things around in, the magnitude of which depends on how strong the connection between the humans is. The concept of synchronicity shows that because of these connections that exist in our world, certain events line up to push us toward our “Personal Legends.” Learning how to discover the meaning of those events is what separates the enlightened from those still on the quest. Santiago learned to find meaning in his experiences and completed his Personal Legend, and it all stemmed from recognizing the meaning of events in our lives and realizing that everything he went through was connected and allowed him to get to where he wanted to go.

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Essay on Fate in ‘The Alchemist’. (2024, February 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-fate-in-the-alchemist/
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Essay on Fate in ‘The Alchemist’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Feb 09 [cited 2024 May 25]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-fate-in-the-alchemist/
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