Those who have read both books may argue that they are very different in terms of writing style, premise and tenets. Yet, after reading them I did feel there was a common thread of thought. Let’s take a look at the summaries.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The book follows the story of Santiago, a shepherd who has a recurring dream. Believing it to be prophetic, he embarks on a journey to Egypt to learn the meaning of life. In the course of his travels, he comes across many characters, including an “Alchemist”, who help hims understand his true purpose and teaches him lessons about accomplishing his dreams. Santiago’s journey takes him to Egypt, in search of his “treasure.” However, in the end, Santiago is faced with the revelation that the “treasure” he was seeking was in the place where he began his journey. The main message is, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
The secret is a self-help book that reiterates that you have the ability to be whatever you dream of being. So basically, you are what you think. The main premise of the book is that the universe operates based on the law of attraction, and you can create your dream life by using this knowledge to your advantage. The book teaches you how positive thinking can help you get the best results in relationships, career, finances and health. So, positive thoughts attract desired situations and circumstances. Conversely, negative thoughts attract bad situations and stressful circumstances.
Comparison of The Secret and The Alchemist
I read The Alchemist when I was in high school and The Secret maybe around six years ago. The Alchemist is written in story format wherein the central idea of the book is conveyed using allegories and metaphors. As a high school student, it was fun to delve deep into the idealistic meanings and messages of the book.
On the other hand, The Secret is written as a guide book. Each chapter has specific instructions and is peppered with a few anecdotes along the way.
Messages from The Alchemist
In terms of takeaways, The Alchemist has several core messages interwoven into the fabric of the story and its characters. Some of the main messages are :
- “There is only one way to learn – through action” – This is self-explanatory
- “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” – In other words, trust in your dream and don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking it’s impossible.
- “Wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure” – Your heart is a treasure trove and when you meditate, pray and be silent- you’ll find the answers you seek.
- ” It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting” – Keep dreaming and visualising the things that you desire. Your request reaches the Universe and as long as you stay in a place of gratitude your dreams will come true.
Messages from The Secret
The Secret has similar messages but uses different words to convey them. The main messages from the secret may be summed up as under :
- The Universe operates on the law of attraction – This is the main law that governs the working of the Universe. You are what you think, you get what you think about most.
- There are three steps to creating the life you want – Ask-Believe-Receive. Ask for what you want, believe that it is yours and get into the receptive mode to receive it.
- Let go of resistance and realise that you are in control of your life – The secret to life is understanding that you’re one with the universe, and you’re in harmony with everyone else and not in competition. There’s no limit to abundance and there’s plenty to go around for everyone.
There were several points of similarity between the two books. Both extolled the virtues of practicing gratitude and counting your blessings daily.
“The simple things are also the most extra-ordinary things and only the wise can see them.”- The Alchemist
“Gratitude will shift you to a higher frequency and you will attract much better things.” – The Secret
A lot of emphasis is laid on dreaming and visualising in the books in order to turn aspirations into reality.
“I’m like everyone else – I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.” – The Alchemist
“Your thoughts become things. Everyone has the power to visualize.” – The Secret
Both books encourage you have unrealistic and larger than life expectations. If people chose to accept things as they are, some of the greatest innovations and inventions would never have been possible.
The underlying message in each of the books is that when you want something, and believe that you will receive it, The Universe will somehow make it available to you.
“When you focus your thoughts on something you want and you hold that focus, you are in that moment summoning what you want with the mightiest power in the Universe.” – The Secret
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” -The Alchemist
The Differences :
While I didn’t find many dissimilarities between the books, there was one glaring difference. The Alchemist was action-centric whereas The Secret was more thought-centric. The Alchemist encourages making decisions and taking action through a process of growth, change and evolution. On the other hand, The Secret seems to endorse visualization and thinking more than acting and doing. Moreover, while The Alchemist recognizes the possibility of failure and the importance of bouncing back, The Secret’s supposition is based on preventing failure even before it occurs merely by controlling your thoughts and focussing on the positives.
To conclude, I enjoyed both books for very different reasons. I would veer slightly in favour of The Alchemist, mainly because its story was told so endearingly and its many allegorical references made for a stimulating read. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that I read it first at a transitional phase of my life. The Secret is definitely a powerful book and can’t be ignored. If you like self help books, that aren’t stories and immediately get to the heart of the matter, then this is the book for you. All said and done, both books are inspiring and empowering and if read in the right spirit, can change your life.