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The alchemist is a mysterious man who lives in the Al-Fayoum oasis and guides Santiago through the desert on his journey to his personal treasure. The alchemist possesses the Master Work and teaches Santiago various life lessons throughout his journey. The alchemist subscribes to the philosophy that individuals should follow their dreams and believes that the universe works to help people accomplish their destiny. He encourages Santiago to never give into his fears and explains to him that the secret to accomplishing amazing feats is to bring spiritual perfection into contact with the material plane. The alchemist also believes in the Soul of the World which is a spiritual bond between all living things which guides humans through various omens towards their individual destinies. The philosophy of the Soul of the World is Transcendentalist in nature. The alchemist teaches Santiago how to communicate with the Soul of the World in order to make his dreams a reality. His positive, spiritual philosophy which is rooted in understanding nature and the universe helps Santiago transform into a spiritually conscience individual who realizes his destiny.
The alchemist seems to be suggesting that understanding life is a voyage. One has to be willing to take part in this journey, to leave one's comfort zone, in order to transform what is into what can or should be. Like alchemy, change is a critical ingredient in this philosophy of life. As a character in the work, the alchemist embodies the need for individuals to envision a transformative vision of life. They do not need to be bound by what is. As Santiago observes, they should not like sheep. Rather, the alchemist suggests that a guiding philosophy of life should be to embrace what might be.
The pursuit of Personal Legends becomes a major part of this philosophy in which individuals find their voice, act upon their passion, and activate the condition of being that differentiates us from the banal world of animals. The transformational element of life is both critical in alchemy and the alchemist's philosophy on how to live it. For the alchemist's philosophy of life, questions, obstacles, and insecurity are all the necessary ingredients of being in the world. The defining element of our humanity seems to be the ability to transform these into meaning and embracing them as part of our identity. Life becomes a journey where meaning and purpose is contingent on what an individual finds within it.
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