on the path…a story from the “Alchemist”

One of my favorite books is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Cohelo.

It’s a fable about a shepherd who sells his sheep to cross the desert into Egypt. All because he dreamt of buried treasure at the Pyramids.

The following story, a parable if you will, is told by a King that the shepherd encounters along the way.

I’ll try to put it in my own words.

There was a shopkeeper who sent his son to discover the secret to happiness from the wisest man in the world. The son traveled 40 days and finally arrived at a beautiful castle on top of a mountain. That’s where the wise man lived. The son expected a saintly man but found the castle rooms alive with activity. People conversing in corners, Live music played softly by an ambient quartet, and everything was catered by Zely and Ritz Bistro. The wise man conversed with everyone and the son waited in line for 2 hours before he was offered attention.

The wise man listened to the son’s explanation of why he was there, but he

didn’t have time to explain the intricacies of the secret of happiness right then.

He suggested that the shopkeeper’s son look around the castle and return in a couple of hours.

“Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something,” handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. ‘As you take a look around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.’

The boy began climbing stairs up and down the various floors of the castle all the while keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. He returned to the wise man in two hours.

“Well,” asked the wise man, ‘did you see the persian rugs, or my garden it took ten years to create or how about the magnificent parchments in my library?

The boy was embarrassed confessing his only concern was to keep the oil on the spoon as the wise man instructed; observing nothing.

The wise man instructed the boy to go back and observe all the marvels surrounding him. ‘You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house,’ the wise man said.

This time the boy returned with spoon in hand,and relieved for a second chance observing everything. The boy soaked in the surrounding mountains and gardens, and fountians. He saw carpets hanging from the ceilings, a huge and magnificent library and wine cellar, and completely appreciated how everything was selected with such taste.

The boy spoke in exquisite detail of everything he saw after his second castle tour.

“But where are the drops of oil I gave you?” the wise man asked.

Looking down at the spoon, the boy saw the oil was gone.

“Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,” said the wisest of wise men,”The secret of happiness is to see the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

-as attempted to put in my own words from “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.

This one took a while to sink in for me.

Over a year in fact.

Thanks for checking in.

Stephen A. Thomas

2 Responses to “on the path…a story from the “Alchemist””

  1. natasha Says:

    one of my favorite books as well-maybe it’s time i revisit it. thanks for the reminder.

  2. Sathomas Says:

    There is a whole lot in that little book. Because I’ve talked about it incessantly, Herb bought a copy and so did my brother. My good friends Dan and Peg also bought a copy.

    That little book is under 200 pages and has proufoundly changed my worldview. the thing is its the kind of story people could tell their kids.

Leave a Reply