I picked up The Alchemist last night, and I cannot figure out how I have gone this long without reading it. What is more astonishing is that it came into my consciousness through a blogger I read here, just after I wrote my last post about the indeterminacy of desires.
For those of you who do not know, The Alchemist is a book by Paulo Coelho that narrates the life of a shepherd who discovers, and subsequently seeks his “Personal Legend”. A Personal Legend is something like one’s “purpose”, or deepest desire, that comes to him as a child but is often forgotten, or deemed impossible, once he reaches adulthood. If the individual is able to determine his Personal Legend then “all the universe conspires in helping [him] to achieve it” (The Alchemist). Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
What is really striking to me is the power of fictional narrative as a self-help tool. Most of the literature filed under “personal growth” or whatnot appeals to our minds through easily digestible “techniques” or tidbits of advice. But fiction can elicit a more emotional or visceral learning. It infuses our psyches with a non-logic based understanding of the world, as if by magic.
I have not finished the book yet but it has already given me great fodder for well-being. It helps fill in some gaps in my spiritual education, because it addresses the heart in conjunction with the mind.
So, I would love to know, what fiction books have lent spiritual inspiration to you?