The Stalker

The Stalker by Lawrence E. Rogers

After attending a New York University seminar held in a downtown location, Ruth Davis walked back to her office unaware that she was being followed by a man. As she approached the front door of the office building, he suddenly appeared at her side, and he opened the door for her. “Thank you,” she said with a smile. He did not respond. Instead he focused his eyes on the front of her dress. She realized that he was reading her name tag which she had forgotten to remove when the seminar ended. The man disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. The next morning, Saturday, Ruth left her apartment for her weekly grocery shopping. She noticed the strange man sitting on a bench on the edge of a park located across the street from her apartment. The sight of this man made her feel uneasy. At the grocery store, she left her shopping cart at the end of an aisle that was crowded with carts. Ruth went down the aisle to pick up one item, and she returned to her cart. When she looked in the cart, she saw a frozen fish with its head in place and with its large eyes appearing to be looking up at Ruth. She jumped back in surprise and felt self-conscious. Had others seen her jump? She looked around and saw several aisles away the strange man watching her. Ruth began to push the cart in his direction intending to confront him, but he had retreated rapidly through the outer door of the store. Ruth had started to work just last month at a financial services firm in New York City. Her hometown was far away, and she had no relatives or friends in this new location. Ruth spoke to her apartment manager about the stalker. The manager said, “I can help you because I have a close friend who is a police lieutenant in this district. I’ll ask him to come talk with you.” Saturday evening, Lieutenant Tom Holmes, a middle-aged officer, came to see Ruth. He listened to her story and said, “I want you to telephone me if you see this man again. He has not committed a crime for which I can arrest him, but I can get him to identify himself and can order him to stop annoying you.” Sunday morning was such a lovely morning that Ruth decided to walk to church which was only three blocks from her apartment. As she prepared to cross the first intersection, she paused to allow an approaching automobile to turn the corner in front of her. The car stopped and blocked her path. The stalker jumped out and grabbed Ruth, dragging her toward the open door of his car. “Help! Help me!” Ruth screamed. She realized that she was in the hands of a man who was much stronger than she was. Three pedestrians — two men and a woman — were a half a block away. “Leave that girl alone!” the woman shouted. The men ran toward the attacker, but they got there too late. He shoved Ruth to the sidewalk, jumped into his car, and sped away. The three witnesses were assured by Ruth that she had not suffered any injury and that she would report the attack to the police as soon as she returned to her apartment. None of them, including Ruth, had been alert enough to get the license number or a good description of the car. One man wrote down his name and address and had the other two do the same. “The police will want to know if anyone witnessed the attack on you.” Upon returning to her apartment, Ruth telephoned Lieutenant Holmes who came immediately. “This man has committed a crime,” he said. “Now I can arrest him. You are in a dangerous situation. For the next three mornings, I will escort you to work. Perhaps, if this fellow is watching, he will see that you have police protection, and he will stop following you.” “The first thing I have been doing each morning is to go for a jog in the park across the street,” Ruth said. Lieutenant Holmes interrupted her. “Do not think about jogging tomorrow or any other day as long as you are in danger from this stalker.” All went well on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday when Holmes drove Ruth to her office. On Thursday, Ruth got up early and decided to go for a jog in the park. “Lieutenant Holmes will never know about this,” she said to herself. Ruth had been running for only two or three minutes when she perceived that she was alone in the park. It was a cloudy and chilly day so the usual people who came to the park in the morning had stayed home. Ruth started to return to the safety of her apartment when she saw him emerging from a wooded area and running toward her. He was between Ruth and her apartment. Ruth began running at top speed to get away, but she could see that he was gaining steadily. She knew he was far stronger than she was; she realized he was also much faster. Her only chance was in being more agile than he was. She stopped running. As he approached her at top speed, he lifted his right arm preparing to strike a blow. Ruth saw some type of weapon in his hand which he swung toward her head. She dodged the blow, causing him to lose his balance. Ruth aimed a kick at his head with all her strength. Her foot struck him in the middle of his face. He fell to his knees using his two arms like poles to prevent his upper body from collapsing to the ground. Blood began to gush from his nose. While Ruth ran toward her apartment, she looked back to see him still trying to recover from her kick. Thank goodness, Ruth thought, for that Women’s Self-Defense course that I took last year. Several police cars came in response to Ruth’s 911 telephone call. After she described the attack and the attacker, one police officer stayed with her to complete an official report while other officers went to search the area. Lieutenant Holmes arrived about ten minutes later. He was upset with Ruth. “Young lady, didn’t I tell you not to jog?” he said to her. “Why did you ignore my warning? Come with me to show me exactly where this attack occurred.” At the scene, Holmes bent over for a close look over the ground. He looked at, but did not touch the weapon that the stalker had dropped. He observed the pool of blood on the ground, and he turned to look at Ruth to assure himself that this was not her blood. Two other officers nearby were instructed by the lieutenant to call in the Evidence Collection team. Back at Ruth’s apartment, Holmes spoke bluntly, “You had a narrow escape today. The weapon that man used was a long metal bar with extremely sharp edges. You would have been killed or would have suffered brain damage if this weapon had split open your skull. Your kick may make this man more determined than ever to hurt you. We are going to protect you.” The lieutenant continued to speak, “Tomorrow morning a police officer will escort you to work. I have secured permission to lend you a new police radio that will enable you to summon help much faster than by use of a telephone. You press this large button and talk into the unit as if you had dialed 911 on the telephone. As soon as you press the large button, a police dispatcher will be listening to the words you speak.” He gave the police radio to Ruth who put it into her purse. On Friday morning Ruth was ready when the police officer rang her doorbell. She opened the door wide and said, “I just need to go back to the bedroom for my purse, and I will be with you.” The police officer stood in the open doorway. Ruth picked up her purse and looked down the hallway from the bedroom in time to see the stalker striking the police officer over the head. Ruth withdrew the police radio from her purse, pressed the large button, and began shouting, “Emergency! Emergency! Police officer needs help!” She repeated her address twice. The stalker heard her shouting into the radio. He started to move toward her. She slammed and locked the bedroom door. The bathroom entry was through her bedroom. She slammed and locked the bathroom door. Ruth opened the bathroom window and climbed out on the window sill. She could hear the noise of the stalker breaking down her bedroom door as she jumped into the soft flower garden beneath her first floor window. While she ran toward the front of the apartment building, Ruth turned to look back and saw the stalker leaning out the bathroom window. Less than a minute after her call for help, sirens from police vehicles could be heard. Ruth was astonished by the number of police officers who came. The first officers to arrive followed Ruth’s directions and rushed into her apartment. They found their fellow officer unconscious and bleeding. The stalker had left the building by a back door. With several officers at her side, Ruth looked down the street and pointed to a mailman getting into a mail truck. “That is the stalker!” she exclaimed. Officers ran toward the mail truck, but could not get to it before the stalker sped away. One officer went into the building from which the mailman had emerged. “The real mailman is injured and needs an ambulance!” he shouted. “His uniform was stolen.” Police had alerted all cars about the stalker in the mail vehicle and within a few minutes the stalker was in custody. “Your alertness in identifying the stalker in the mailman’s uniform prevented him from escaping,” an officer said to Ruth. A group of officers headed by Lieutenant Holmes brought the captured man to Ruth for her identification. “Yes. This is the man who tried to kill me,” she said. Lieutenant Holmes observed a look of hatred directed toward Ruth. At the preliminary hearing in court and at the trial many months later, Holmes was disturbed to see the same look of bitter hatred directed at Ruth. At police headquarters, officers found the story of the stalker’s life to be a familiar one. There was no father in the home in which he was reared. His mother was an uncaring person. The stalker had a long record of arrests as a juvenile delinquent and as an adult criminal. “Why did you want to hurt this particular young woman?” Lieutenant Holmes asked him. The reply was that his probation officer had suggested that he read his horoscope each day. The horoscope on the first day that he saw Ruth had stated, “An attractive person you will see today will not become a close friend.” In his confused way of thinking, he interpreted the horoscope to mean that this person would be his enemy. The attractive person he saw was Ruth. Ruth’s parents had spent the week of the stalker’s trial in New York with their daughter. After the stalker was found guilty by the jury, Lieutenant Holmes spoke privately with her father. “I have prepared an envelope containing all of the information I have been able to gather about the stalker. Take this envelope home with you and put it in your safe deposit box. This man will serve a long sentence in prison because he nearly killed a police officer who was assigned to protect Ruth. The stalker now directs his hatred at Ruth more than at any other person. I believe that when he gets out of prison, he will try to find your daughter. If the stalker comes near her again, show this information to the local police. They will immediately understand the importance of protecting your daughter.” At the airport on the day that Ruth’s parents were leaving for their hometown, Ruth said to them, “I never have to worry again about the stalker.” “Yes,” her mother replied. “Everything is safe for you now.” Ruth’s father felt in his coat pocket to be certain that he had in his possession the packet of information prepared by Lieutenant Holmes

The Blind men and the Elephant (Perception, Truth, Perspective, Empathy, Communications and Understanding)

There are various versions of the story of the blind men and the elephant. The blind men and the elephant is a legend that appears in different cultures – notably China, Africa and India – and the tale dates back thousands of years. Some versions of the story feature three blind men, others five or six, but the message is always the same. Here’s a story of the six blind men and the elephant:

Six blind men were discussing exactly what they believed an elephant to be, since each had heard how strange the creature was, yet none had ever seen one before. So the blind men agreed to find an elephant and discover what the animal was really like.

It didn’t take the blind men long to find an elephant at a nearby market. The first blind man approached the beast and felt the animal’s firm flat side. “It seems to me that the elephant is just like a wall,” he said to his friends.

The second blind man reached out and touched one of the elephant’s tusks. “No, this is round and smooth and sharp – the elephant is like a spear.”

Intrigued, the third blind man stepped up to the elephant and touched its trunk. “Well, I can’t agree with either of you; I feel a squirming writhing thing – surely the elephant is just like a snake.”

The fourth blind man was of course by now quite puzzled. So he reached out, and felt the elephant’s leg. “You are all talking complete nonsense,” he said, “because clearly the elephant is just like a tree.”

Utterly confused, the fifth blind man stepped forward and grabbed one of the elephant’s ears. “You must all be mad – an elephant is exactly like a fan.”

Duly, the sixth man approached, and, holding the beast’s tail, disagreed again. “It’s nothing like any of your descriptions – the elephant is just like a rope.”

And all six blind men continued to argue, based on their own particular experiences, as to what they thought an elephant was like. It was an argument that they were never able to resolve. Each of them was concerned only with their own idea. None of them had the full picture, and none could see any of the other’s point of view. Each man saw the elephant as something quite different, and while in part each blind man was right, none was wholly correct.

There is never just one way to look at something – there are always different perspectives, meanings, and perceptions, depending on who is looking.

The Swamis and the Mysterious Light

A long time ago, there were two swamis who lived in two neighboring caves. They spent most of their time in deep meditation, except the time they ate or were visited by devotees. The people who came to visit them revered the two swamis, and enjoyed listening to them and being in their proximity. They sought their company, since they always felt more peaceful and happy when near them, and also for a long time after they went away.

One cave was dark, as caves usually are, but in the other one there was sometimes a peculiar golden light illuminating the cave. It was not strong, but enough to be noticed and to mildly illuminate the cave. The phenomenon of the light bewildered the visitors, but they could not come to an agreement about the causes of the light. Both swamis were rather silent most of the time, and did not want to discuss the phenomenon of the light.

The company of the swamis aroused calmness and peace in the visitors. Their minds slowed their incessant chatter, and they experienced a pleasant inner peace and inner happiness. The visitors admired both swamis, but believed that the one living in the illuminated cave possessed supernatural powers and was more advanced. He certainly appeared to them as a mysterious person.

One day a great sage was passing by a near village, and being recognized by the villagers, one of them approached him and said:
“Great master, we have a question to ask. There is a mystery which you might solve for us.”
“I will be glad to help you, if I can”, answered the sage.

“There are two swamis living here on the hill…”, the villager started to recount.
“Yes, I know”, answered the sage, “and you inquire about the light in the cave.”

“Yes, great master, that is true. It is something that has been a riddle for us. Can you please tell us also, if the swami in the lighted cave is more advanced, and if he really possess supernatural powers?”

“Pay attention to your inner self and not to outer phenomena. The outside world always changes, but inner self is constant. When in the presence of a teacher, listen to what he says and be aware of the influence of his words on you. Watch yourself, and see whether under his influence you become calmer and more peaceful, and your thoughts, at least for a while, slow down their mad race.”

“Yes most revered master”, said one of the devotees, “but please enlightens us on the mysterious light.”

The sage sat down, and started to explain: “Sometimes, when one works intensively on the spiritual path, and concentrates and meditates a lot, various phenomena may occur around him, such as lights, sounds or visions. This is not supernatural. The mind has a creative power, and when concentrated, can produce various phenomena even unintentionally.”

“It does not mean that one is more advanced than the other. Not all minds produce these things. Some do, and some don’t.”

“Some of the people who produce these lights may be aware of the light, and some may not. It depends on their psychic sensitivity. So it is also with the people who watch them. Not all see this light. In any case, it has nothing to do with whether one swami is more advanced or less advanced than the other one.”

“Thank you great master, you have solved for us this great mystery”, exclaimed the devotees of the swamis, who were standing by, deeply relieved and happy to understand the mystery that has been troubling them for a long time.

By Remez Sasson

“THE ALCHEMIST” [Part-9]

The Alchemist Part-9

The simum blew that day as it had never blown before. For generations thereafter, the Arabs recounted the legend of a boy who had turned himself into the wind, almost destroying a military camp, in defiance of the most powerful chief in the desert.

When the simum ceased to blow, everyone looked to the place where the boy had been. But he was no longer there; he was standing next to a sand-covered sentinel, on the far side of the camp.

The men were terrified at his sorcery. But there were two people who were smiling: the alchemist, because he had found his perfect disciple, and the chief, because that disciple had understood the glory of God.

The following day, the general bade the boy and the alchemist farewell, and provided them with an escort

party to accompany them as far as they chose.

* They rode for the entire day. Toward the end of the afternoon, they came upon a Coptic monastery. The alchemist dismounted, and told the escorts they could return to the camp.

“From here on, you will be alone,” the alchemist said. “You are only three hours from the Pyramids.”

“Thank you,” said the boy. “You taught me the Language of the World.”

“I only invoked what you already knew.”

The alchemist knocked on the gate of the monastery. A monk dressed in black came to the gates. They spoke for a few minutes in the Coptic tongue, and the alchemist bade the boy enter.

“I asked him to let me use the kitchen for a while,” the alchemist smiled.

They went to the kitchen at the back of the monastery. The alchemist lighted the fire, and the monk brought him some lead, which the alchemist placed in an iron pan. When the lead had become liquid, the alchemist took from his pouch the strange yellow egg. He scraped from it a sliver as thin as a hair, wrapped it in wax, and added it to the pan in which the lead had melted.

The mixture took on a reddish color, almost the color of blood. The alchemist removed the pan from the fire, and set it aside to cool. As he did so, he talked with the monk about the tribal wars.

“I think they’re going to last for a long time,” he said to the monk.

The monk was irritated. The caravans had been stopped at Giza for some time, waiting for the wars to end. “But God’s will be done,” the monk said.

“Exactly,” answered the alchemist.

When the pan had cooled, the monk and the boy looked at it, dazzled. The lead had dried into the shape of

the pan, but it was no longer lead. It was gold.

“Will I learn to do that someday?” the boy asked.

“This was my destiny, not yours,” the alchemist answered. “But I wanted to show you that it was possible.”

They returned to the gates of the monastery. There, the alchemist separated the disk into four parts.

“This is for you,” he said, holding one of the parts out to the monk. “It’s for your generosity to the pilgrims.”

“But this payment goes well beyond my generosity,” the monk responded. “Don’t say that again. Life might be listening, and give you less the next time.”

The alchemist turned to the boy. “This is for you. To make up for what you gave to the general.”

The boy was about to say that it was much more than he had given the general. But he kept quiet, because he had heard what the alchemist said to the monk.

“And this is for me,” said the alchemist, keeping one of the parts. “Because I have to return to the desert, where there are tribal wars.”

He took the fourth part and handed it to the monk.

“This is for the boy. If he ever needs it.”

“But I’m going in search of my treasure,” the boy said. “I’m very close to it now.”

“And I’m certain you’ll find it,” the alchemist said.

“Then why this?”

“Because you have already lost your savings twice. Once to the thief, and once to the general. I’m an old,

superstitious Arab, and I believe in our proverbs. There’s one that says, ‘Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.’ ” They mounted their horses.

*

“I want to tell you a story about dreams,” said the alchemist.

The boy brought his horse closer.

“In ancient Rome, at the time of Emperor Tiberius, there lived a good man who had two sons. One was in the military, and had been sent to the most distant regions of the empire. The other son was a poet, and delighted all of Rome with his beautiful verses.

“One night, the father had a dream. An angel appeared to him, and told him that the words of one of his sons would be learned and repeated throughout the world for all generations to come. The father woke from his dream grateful and crying, because life was generous, and had revealed to him something any father would be proud to know.

“Shortly thereafter, the father died as he tried to save a child who was about to be crushed by the wheels of a chariot. Since he had lived his entire life in a manner that was correct and fair, he went directly to heaven, where he met the angel that had appeared in his dream.

” ‘You were always a good man,’ the angel said to him. ‘You lived your life in a loving way, and died with dignity. I can now grant you any wish you desire.’ ” ‘Life was good to me,’ the man said. ‘When you appeared in my dream, I felt that all my efforts had been rewarded, because my son’s poems will be read by men for generations to come. I don’t want anything for myself. But any father would be proud of the fame achieved by one whom he had cared for as a child, and educated as he grew up. Sometime in the distant future, I would like to see my son’s words.’

“The angel touched the man’s shoulder, and they were both projected far into the future. They were in an immense setting, surrounded by thousands of people speaking a strange language.

“The man wept with happiness.

” ‘I knew that my son’s poems were immortal,’ he said to the angel through his tears. ‘Can you please tell me

which of my son’s poems these people are repeating?’

“The angel came closer to the man, and, with tenderness, led him to a bench nearby, where they sat down.

“‘The verses of your son who was the poet were very popular in Rome,’ the angel said. ‘Everyone loved them and enjoyed them. But when the reign of Tiberius ended, his poems were forgotten. The words you’re hearing now are those of your son in the military.’

“The man looked at the angel in surprise.

” ‘Your son went to serve at a distant place, and became a centurion. He was just and good. One afternoon, one of his servants fell ill, and it appeared that he would die. Your son had heard of a rabbi who was able to cure illnesses, and he rode out for days and days in search of this

man. Along the way, he learned that the man he was seeking was the Son of God. He met others who had been cured by him, and they instructed your son in the man’s teachings. And so, despite the fact that he was a Roman centurion, he converted to their faith. Shortly thereafter, he reached the place where the man he was looking for was visiting.’

” ‘He told the man that one of his servants was gravely ill, and the rabbi made ready to go to his house with him. But the centurion was a man of faith, and, looking into the eyes of the rabbi, he knew that he was surely in the presence of the Son of God.’

” ‘And this is what your son said,’ the angel told the man. ‘These are the words he said to the rabbi at that point, and they have never been forgotten: “My Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak a word and my servant will be healed.” “‘

The alchemist said, “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

The boy smiled. He had never imagined that questions about life would be of such importance to a shepherd.

“Good-bye,” the alchemist said. “Good-bye,” said the boy.

*

The boy rode along through the desert for several hours, listening avidly to what his heart had to say. It was his heart that would tell him where his treasure was hidden.

“Where your treasure is, there also will be your heart,” the alchemist had told him.

But his heart was speaking of other things. With pride, it told the story of a shepherd who had left his flock to follow a dream he had on two different occasions. It told of destiny, and of the many men who had wandered in search of distant lands or beautiful women, confronting the people of their times with their preconceived notions. It spoke of journeys, discoveries, books, and change.

As he was about to climb yet another dune, his heart whispered, “Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears. That’s where I am, and that’s where your treasure is.”

The boy climbed the dune slowly. A full moon rose again in the starry sky: it had been a month since he had set forth from the oasis. The moonlight cast shadows through the dunes, creating the appearance of a rolling sea; it reminded the boy of the day when that horse had reared in the desert, and he had come to know the alchemist. And the moon fell on the desert’s silence, and on a man’s journey in search of treasure.

When he reached the top of the dune, his heart leapt. There, illuminated by the light of the moon and the brightness of the desert, stood the solemn and majestic Pyramids of Egypt.

The boy fell to his knees and wept. He thanked God for making him believe in his destiny, and for leading him to meet a king, a merchant, an Englishman, and an alchemist. And above all for his having met a woman of the desert who had told him that love would never keep a man from his destiny.

If he wanted to, he could now return to the oasis, go back to Fatima, and live his life as a simple shepherd. After all, the alchemist continued to live in the desert, even though he understood the Language of the World, and knew how to transform lead into gold. He didn’t need to demonstrate his science and art to anyone. The boy told himself that, on the way toward realizing his own destiny, he had learned all he needed to know, and had experienced everything he

might have dreamed of.

But here he was, at the point of finding his treasure, and he reminded himself that no project is completed until its objective has been achieved. The boy looked at the sands around him, and saw that, where his tears had fallen, a scarab beetle was scuttling through the sand. During his time in the desert, he had learned that, in Egypt, the scarab beetles are a symbol of God.

Another omen! The boy began to dig into the dune. As he did so, he thought of what the crystal merchant had once said: that anyone could build a pyramid in his backyard. The boy could see now that he couldn’t do so if he placed stone upon stone for the rest of his life.

Throughout the night, the boy dug at the place he had chosen, but found nothing. He felt weighted down by the centuries of time since the Pyramids had been built. But he didn’t stop. He struggled to continue digging as he fought the wind, which often blew the sand back into the excavation. His hands were abraded and exhausted, but he listened to his heart. It had told him to dig where his tears fell.

As he was attempting to pull out the rocks he encountered, he heard footsteps. Several figures approached him. Their backs were to the moonlight, and the boy could see neither their eyes nor their faces.

“What are you doing here?” one of the figures demanded.

Because he was terrified, the boy didn’t answer. He had found where his treasure was, and was frightened at what might happen.

“We’re refugees from the tribal wars, and we need money,” the other figure said. “What are you hiding there?”

“I’m not hiding anything,” the boy answered.

But one of them seized the boy and yanked him back out of the hole. Another, who was searching the boy’s bags, found the piece of gold.

“There’s gold here,” he said.

The moon shone on the face of the Arab who had seized him, and in the man’s eyes the boy saw death.

“He’s probably got more gold hidden in the ground.”

They made the boy continue digging, but he found nothing. As the sun rose, the men began to beat the boy. He was bruised and bleeding, his clothing was torn to shreds, and he felt that death was near.

“What good is money to you if you’re going to die? It’s not often that money can save someone’s life,” the alchemist had said. Finally, the boy screamed at the men, “I’m digging for treasure!” And, although his mouth was bleeding and swollen, he told his attackers that he had twice dreamed of a treasure hidden near the Pyramids of Egypt.

The man who appeared to be the leader of the group spoke to one of the others: “Leave him. He doesn’t have anything else. He must have stolen this gold.”

The boy fell to the sand, nearly unconscious. The leader shook him and said, “We’re leaving.”

But before they left, he came back to the boy and said, “You’re not going to die. You’ll live, and you’ll learn that a man shouldn’t be so stupid. Two years ago, right here on this spot, I had a recurrent dream, too. I dreamed that I should travel to the fields of Spain and look for a ruined church where shepherds and their sheep slept. In my dream, there was a sycamore growing out of the ruins of the sacristy, and I was told that, if I dug at the roots of the sycamore, I would find a hidden treasure. But I’m not so stupid as to cross an entire desert just because of a recurrent dream.”

And they disappeared.

The boy stood up shakily, and looked once more at the Pyramids. They seemed to laugh at him, and he laughed back, his heart bursting with joy.

Because now he knew where his treasure was.

EPILOGUE

The boy reached the small, abandoned church just as night was falling. The sycamore was still there in the

sacristy, and the stars could still be seen through the half- destroyed roof. He remembered the time he had been there with his sheep; it had been a peaceful night… except for the dream.

Now he was here not with his flock, but with a shovel.

He sat looking at the sky for a long time. Then he took from his knapsack a bottle of wine, and drank some. He remembered the night in the desert when he had sat with the alchemist, as they looked at the stars and drank wine together. He thought of the many roads he had traveled, and of the strange way God had chosen to show him his treasure. If he hadn’t believed in the significance of recurrent dreams, he would not have met the Gypsy woman, the king, the thief, or… “Well, it’s a long list. But the path was written in the omens, and there was no way I could go wrong,” he said to himself.

He fell asleep, and when he awoke the sun was already high. He began to dig at the base of the sycamore.

“You old sorcerer,” the boy shouted up to the sky. “You knew the whole story. You even left a bit of gold at the monastery so I could get back to this church. The monk laughed when he saw me come back in tatters. Couldn’t you have saved me from that?”

“No,” he heard a voice on the wind say. “If I had told you, you wouldn’t have seen the Pyramids. They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”

The boy smiled, and continued digging. Half an hour later, his shovel hit something solid. An hour later, he had before him a chest of Spanish gold coins. There were also precious stones, gold masks adorned with red and white feathers, and stone statues embedded with jewels. The spoils of a conquest that the country had long ago forgotten, and that some conquistador had failed to tell his children about.

The boy took out Urim and Thummim from his bag. He had used the two stones only once, one morning when he was at a marketplace. His life and his path had always provided him with enough omens.

He placed Urim and Thummim in the chest.

They were also a part of his new treasure, because they were a reminder of the old king, whom he would never

see again.

It’s true; life really is generous to those who pursue their destiny, the boy thought. Then he remembered that he had to get to Tarifa so he could give one-tenth of his treasure to the Gypsy woman, as he had promised. Those Gypsies are really smart, he thought. Maybe it was because they moved around so much.

The wind began to blow again. It was the levanter, the wind that came from Africa. It didn’t bring with it the smell of the desert, nor the threat of Moorish invasion. Instead, it brought the scent of a perfume he knew well, and the touch of a kiss–a kiss that came from far away, slowly, slowly, until it rested on his lips.

The boy smiled. It was the first time she had done that.

“I’m coming, Fatima,” he said.

The End.

Review of this Novel:  

Journey towards life

To pursue and realizing our dream is the theme of this book. The story is simple, so is the philosophy, but yet it allows us to go deep inside our thoughts to understand what we really desire in our life.
An amazing guide for us to understand ourselves.

“THE ALCHEMIST” [Part-8]

The Alchemist Part-8

On the following day, the first clear sign of danger appeared. Three armed tribesmen approached, and asked what the boy and the alchemist were doing there.

“I’m hunting with my falcon,” the alchemist answered.

“We’re going to have to search you to see whether you’re armed,” one of the tribesmen said.

The alchemist dismounted slowly, and the boy did the same.

“Why are you carrying money?” asked the tribesman, when he had searched the boy’s bag.

“I need it to get to the Pyramids,” he said. The tribesman who was searching the alchemist’s belongings found a small crystal flask filled with a liquid, and a yellow glass egg that was slightly larger than a chicken’s egg.

“What are these things?” he asked.

“That’s the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life. It’s the Master Work of the alchemists. Whoever swallows that elixir will never be sick again, and a fragment from that stone turns any metal into gold.”

The Arabs laughed at him, and the alchemist laughed along. They thought his answer was amusing, and they allowed the boy and the alchemist to proceed with all of their belongings.

“Are you crazy?” the boy asked the alchemist, when they had moved on. “What did you do that for?”

“To show you one of life’s simple lessons,” the alchemist answered. “When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.”

They continued across the desert. With every day that passed, the boy’s heart became more and more silent. It no longer wanted to know about things of the past or future; it was content simply to contemplate the desert, and to drink with the boy from the Soul of the World. The boy and his heart had become friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other.

When his heart spoke to him, it was to provide a stimulus to the boy, and to give him strength, because the days of silence there in the desert were wearisome. His heart told the boy what his strongest qualities were: his courage in having given up his sheep and in trying to live out his destiny, and his enthusiasm during the time he had worked at the crystal shop.

And his heart told him something else that the boy had never noticed: it told the boy of dangers that had threatened him, but that he had never perceived. His heart said that one time it had hidden the rifle the boy had taken from his father, because of the possibility that the boy might wound himself. And it reminded the boy of the day when he

had been ill and vomiting out in the fields, after which he had fallen into a deep sleep. There had been two thieves farther ahead who were planning to steal the boy’s sheep and murder him. But, since the boy hadn’t passed by, they had decided to move on, thinking that he had changed his route.

“Does a man’s heart always help him?” the boy asked the alchemist.

“Mostly just the hearts of those who are trying to realize their destinies. But they do help children, drunkards, and the elderly, too.”

“Does that mean that I’ll never run into danger?”

“It means only that the heart does what it can,” the alchemist said. One afternoon, they passed by the encampment of one of the tribes. At each corner of the camp were Arabs garbed in beautiful white robes, with arms at the ready. The men were smoking their hookahs and trading stories from the battlefield. No one paid any attention to the two travelers.

“There’s no danger,” the boy said, when they had moved on past the encampment.

The alchemist sounded angry: “Trust in your heart, but never forget that you’re in the desert. When men are at war with one another, the Soul of the World can hear the screams of battle. No one fails to suffer the consequences of everything under the sun.”

All things are one, the boy thought. And then, as if the desert wanted to demonstrate that the alchemist was right, two horsemen appeared from behind the travelers.

“You can’t go any farther,” one of them said. “You’re in the area where the tribes are at war.”

“I’m not going very far,” the alchemist answered, looking straight into the eyes of the horsemen. They were silent for a moment, and then agreed that the boy and the alchemist could move along.

The boy watched the exchange with fascination. “You dominated those horsemen with the way you looked at them,” he said.

“Your eyes show the strength of your soul,” answered the alchemist.

That’s true, the boy thought. He had noticed that, in the midst of the multitude of armed men back at the encampment, there had been one who stared fixedly at the two. He had been so far away that his face wasn’t even visible. But the boy was certain that he had been looking at them.

Finally, when they had crossed the mountain range that extended along the entire horizon, the alchemist said that they were only two days from the Pyramids.

“If we’re going to go our separate ways soon,” the boy said, “then teach me about alchemy.”

“You already know about alchemy. It is about penetrating to the Soul of the World, and discovering the treasure that has been reserved for you.”

“No, that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about transforming lead into gold.”

The alchemist fell as silent as the desert, and answered the boy only after they had stopped to eat.

“Everything in the universe evolved,” he said. “And, for wise men, gold is the metal that evolved the furthest. Don’t ask me why; I don’t know why. I just know that the Tradition is always right. “Men have never understood the words of the wise. So gold, instead of being seen as a symbol of evolution, became the basis for conflict.”

“There are many languages spoken by things,” the boy said. “There was a time when, for me, a camel’s whinnying was nothing more than whinnying. Then it became a signal of danger. And, finally, it became just a whinny again.”

But then he stopped. The alchemist probably already knew all that.

“I have known true alchemists,” the alchemist continued. “They locked themselves in their laboratories, and tried to evolve, as gold had. And they found the Philosopher’s Stone, because they understood that when something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well.

“Others stumbled upon the stone by accident. They already had the gift, and their souls were readier for such things than the souls of others. But they don’t count. They’re quite rare.

“And then there were the others, who were interested only in gold. They never found the secret. They forgot that lead, copper, and iron have their own destinies to fulfill. And anyone who interferes with the destiny of another thing never will discover his own.”

The alchemist’s words echoed out like a curse. He reached over and picked up a shell from the ground.

“This desert was once a sea,” he said.

“I noticed that,” the boy answered.

The alchemist told the boy to place the shell over his ear. He had done that many times when he was a child, and had heard the sound of the sea.

“The sea has lived on in this shell, because that’s its destiny. And it will never cease doing so until the desert is once again covered by water.”

They mounted their horses, and rode out in the direction of the Pyramids of Egypt.

*

The sun was setting when the boy’s heart sounded a danger signal. They were surrounded by gigantic dunes, and the boy looked at the alchemist to see whether he had sensed

anything. But he appeared to be unaware of any danger. Five minutes later, the boy saw two horsemen waiting ahead of them. Before he could say anything to the alchemist, the two horsemen had become ten, and then a hundred. And then they were everywhere in the dunes.

They were tribesmen dressed in blue, with black rings surrounding their turbans. Their faces were hidden behind blue veils, with only their eyes showing. Even from a distance, their eyes conveyed the strength of their souls. And

their eyes spoke of death.

*

The two were taken to a nearby military camp. A soldier shoved the boy and the alchemist into a tent where the chief was holding a meeting with his staff.

“These are the spies,” said one of the men.

“We’re just travelers,” the alchemist answered.

“You were seen at the enemy camp three days ago. And you were talking with one of the troops there.”

“I’m just a man who wanders the desert and knows the stars,” said the alchemist. “I have no information about troops or about the movement of the tribes. I was simply acting as a guide for my friend here.”

“Who is your friend?” the chief asked.

“An alchemist,” said the alchemist. “He understands the forces of nature. And he wants to show you his extraordinary powers.”

The boy listened quietly and fearfully.

“What is a foreigner doing here?” asked another of the men.

“He has brought money to give to your tribe,” said the alchemist, before the boy could say a word. And seizing the boy’s bag, the alchemist gave the gold coins to the chief.

The Arab accepted them without a word. There was enough there to buy a lot of weapons.

“What is an alchemist?” he asked, finally.

“It’s a man who understands nature and the world. If he wanted to, he could destroy this camp just with the force of the wind.”

The men laughed. They were used to the ravages of war, and knew that the wind could not deliver them a fatal blow. Yet each felt his heart beat a bit faster. They were men of the desert, and they were fearful of sorcerers.

“I want to see him do it,” said the chief.

“He needs three days,” answered the alchemist. “He is going to transform himself into the wind, just to demonstrate his powers. If he can’t do so, we humbly offer you our lives, for the honor of your tribe.” “You can’t offer me something that is already mine,” the chief said, arrogantly. But he granted the travelers three days.

The boy was shaking with fear, but the alchemist helped him out of the tent.

“Don’t let them see that you’re afraid,” the alchemist said. “They are brave men, and they despise cowards.”

But the boy couldn’t even speak. He was able to do so only after they had walked through the center of the camp. There was no need to imprison them: the Arabs simply confiscated their horses. So, once again, the world had demonstrated its many languages: the desert only moments ago had been endless and free, and now it was an impenetrable wall.

“You gave them everything I had!” the boy said. “Everything I’ve saved in my entire life!”

“Well, what good would it be to you if you had t6 die?” the alchemist answered. “Your money saved us for three days. It’s not often that money saves a person’s life.”

But the boy was too frightened to listen to words of wisdom. He had no idea how he was going to transform himself into the wind. He wasn’t an alchemist!

The alchemist asked one of the soldiers for some tea, and poured some on the boy’s wrists. A wave of relief washed over him, and the alchemist muttered some words that the boy didn’t understand.

“Don’t give in to your fears,” said the alchemist, in a strangely gentle voice. “If you do, you won’t be able to

talk to your heart.”

“But I have no idea how to turn myself into the wind.”

“If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

“I’m not afraid of failing. It’s just that I don’t know how to turn myself into the wind.”

“Well, you’ll have to learn; your life depends on it.”

“But what if I can’t?”

“Then you’ll die in the midst of trying to realize your destiny. That’s a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never even knew what their destinies were.

“But don’t worry,” the alchemist continued. “Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives.”

* The first day passed. There was a major battle nearby, and a number of wounded were brought back to the camp. The dead soldiers were replaced by others, and life went on. Death doesn’t change anything, the boy thought.

“You could have died later on,” a soldier said to the body of one of his companions. “You could have died after peace had been declared. But, in any case, you were going to die.”

At the end of the day, the boy went looking for the alchemist, who had taken his falcon out into the desert.

“I still have no idea how to turn myself into the wind,” the boy repeated.

“Remember what I told you: the world is only the visible aspect of God. And that what alchemy does is to bring spiritual perfection into contact with the material plane.”

“What are you doing?”

“Feeding my falcon.”

“If I’m not able to turn myself into the wind, we’re going to die,” the boy said. “Why feed your falcon?”

“You’re the one who may die,” the alchemist said. “I already know how to turn myself into the wind.”

*

On the second day, the boy climbed to the top of a cliff near the camp. The sentinels allowed him to go; they had already heard about the sorcerer who could turn himself into the wind, and they didn’t want to go near him. In any case, the desert was impassable.

He spent the entire afternoon of the second day looking out over the desert, and listening to his heart. The boy knew the desert sensed his fear. They both spoke the same language.

On the third day, the chief met with his officers. He called the alchemist to the meeting and said, “Let’s go see the boy who turns himself into the wind.”

“Let’s,” the alchemist answered.

The boy took them to the cliff where he had been on the previous day. He told them all to be seated.

“It’s going to take a while,” the boy said. “We’re in no hurry,” the chief answered. “We are men of the desert.”

The boy looked out at the horizon. There were mountains in the distance. And there were dunes, rocks, and plants that insisted on living where survival seemed impossible. There was the desert that he had wandered for so many months; despite all that time, he knew only a small part of it. Within that small part, he had found an Englishman, caravans, tribal wars, and an oasis with fifty thousand palm trees and three hundred wells.

“What do you want here today?” the desert asked him. “Didn’t you spend enough time looking at me yesterday?”

“Somewhere you are holding the person I love,” the boy said. “So, when I look out over your sands, I am also looking at her. I want to return to her, and I need your help so that I can turn myself into the wind.”

“What is love?” the desert asked.

“Love is the falcon’s flight over your sands. Because for him, you are a green field, from which he always returns with game. He knows your rocks, your dunes, and your mountains, and you are generous to him.”

“The falcon’s beak carries bits of me, myself,” the desert said. “For years, I care for his game, feeding it with the little water that I have, and then I show him where the game is. And, one day, as I enjoy the fact that his game thrives on my surface, the falcon dives out of the sky, and takes away what I’ve created.”

“But that’s why you created the game in the first place,” the boy answered. “To nourish the falcon. And the falcon then nourishes man. And, eventually, man will nourish your sands, where the game will once again flourish. That’s how the world goes.”

“So is that what love is?”

“Yes, that’s what love is. It’s what makes the game become the falcon, the falcon become man, and man, in his turn, the desert. It’s what turns lead into gold, and makes the gold return to the earth.”

“I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” the desert said.

“But you can at least understand that somewhere in your sands there is a woman waiting for me. And that’s why I have to turn myself into the wind.”

The desert didn’t answer him for a few moments.

Then it told him, “I’ll give you my sands to help the wind to blow, but, alone, I can’t do anything. You have to ask for help from the wind.”

A breeze began to blow. The tribesmen watched the boy from a distance, talking among themselves in a

language that the boy couldn’t understand. The alchemist smiled.

The wind approached the boy and touched his face. It knew of the boy’s talk with the desert, because the winds know everything. They blow across the world without a birthplace, and with no place to die.

“Help

me,” the boy said. “One day you carried the voice of my loved one to me.”

“Who taught you to speak the language of the desert and the wind?”

“My heart,” the boy answered.

The wind has many names. In that part of the world, it was called the sirocco, because it brought moisture from the oceans to the east. In the distant land the boy came from, they called it the levanter, because they believed that it brought with it the sands of the desert, and the screams of the Moorish wars. Perhaps, in the places beyond the pastures where his sheep lived, men thought that the wind came from Andalusia. But, actually, the wind came from no place at all, nor did it go to any place; that’s why it was stronger than the desert. Someone might one day plant trees in the desert, and even raise sheep there, but never would they harness the wind.

“You can’t be the wind,” the wind said. “We’re two very different things.”

“That’s not true,” the boy said. “I learned the alchemist’s secrets in my travels. I have inside me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created in the universe. We were all made by the same hand, and we have the same soul. I want to be like you, able to reach every corner of the world, cross the seas, blow away the sands that cover my treasure, and carry the voice of the woman I love.”

“I heard what you were talking about the other day with the alchemist,” the wind said. “He said that everything has its own destiny. But people can’t turn themselves into the wind.”

“Just teach me to be the wind for a few moments,” the boy said. “So you and I can talk about the limitless possibilities of people and the winds.”

The wind’s curiosity was aroused, something that had never happened before. It wanted to talk about those things, but it didn’t know how to turn a man into the wind. And look how many things the wind already knew how to do! It created deserts, sank ships, felled entire forests, and blew through cities filled with music and strange noises. It felt that it had no limits, yet here was a boy saying that there were other things the wind should be able to do.

“This is what we call love,” the boy said, seeing that the wind was close to granting what he requested. “When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you, and even men can turn themselves into the wind. As long as the wind helps, of course.” The wind was a proud being, and it was becoming irritated with what the boy was saying. It commenced to blow harder, raising the desert sands. But finally it had to recognize that, even making its way around the world, it didn’t know how to turn a man into the wind. And it knew nothing about love.

“In my travels around the world, I’ve often seen people speaking of love and looking toward the heavens,” the wind said, furious at having to acknowledge its own limitations. “Maybe it’s better to ask heaven.”

“Well then, help me do that,” the boy said. “Fill this place with a sandstorm so strong that it blots out the sun.

Then I can look to heaven without blinding myself.”

So the wind

blew with all its strength, and the sky was filled with sand. The sun was turned into a golden disk.

At the camp, it was difficult to see anything. The men of the desert were already familiar with that wind. They called it the simum, and it was worse than a storm at sea. Their horses cried out, and all their weapons were filled with sand.

On the heights, one of the commanders turned to the chief and said, “Maybe we had better end this!”

They could barely see the boy. Their faces were covered with the blue cloths, and their eyes showed fear.

“Let’s stop this,” another commander said.

“I want to see the greatness of Allah,” the chief said, with respect. “I want to see how a man turns himself into the wind.”

But he made a mental note of the names of the two men who had expressed their fear. As soon as the wind stopped, he was going to remove them from their commands, because true men of the desert are not afraid.

“The wind told me that you know about love ” the boy said to the sun. “If you know about love, you must also know about the Soul of the World, because it’s made of love.”

“From where I am,” the sun said, “I can see the Soul of the World. It communicates with my soul, and together we cause the plants to grow and the sheep to seek out shade. From where I am–and I’m a long way from the earth–I learned how to love. I know that if I came even a little bit closer to the earth, everything there would die, and the Soul of the World would no longer exist. So we contemplate each other, and we want each other, and I give it life and warmth, and it gives me my reason for living.”

“So you know about love,” the boy said.

“And I know the Soul of the World, because we have talked at great length to each other during this endless trip through the universe. It tells me that its greatest problem is that, up until now, only the minerals and vegetables understand that all things are one. That there’s no need for iron to be the same as copper, or copper the same as gold. Each performs its own exact function as a unique being, and everything would be a symphony of peace if the hand that wrote all this had stopped on the fifth day of creation.

“But there was a sixth day,” the sun went on.

“You are wise, because you observe everything from a distance,” the boy said. “But you don’t know about love. If there hadn’t been a sixth day, man would not exist; copper would always be just copper, and lead just lead. It’s true that everything has its destiny, but one day that destiny will be realized. So each thing has to transform itself into something better, and to acquire a new destiny, until, someday, the Soul of the World becomes one thing only.”

The sun thought about that, and decided to shine more brightly. The wind, which was enjoying the conversation, started to blow with greater force, so that the sun would not blind the boy.

“This is why alchemy exists,” the boy said. “So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold.

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

“Well, why did you say that I don’t know about love?” the sun asked the boy.

“Because it’s not love to be static like the desert, nor is it love to roam the world like the wind. And it’s not love to see everything from a distance, like you do. Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World. When I first reached through to it, I thought the Soul of the World was perfect. But later, I could see that it was like other aspects of creation, and had its own passions and wars. It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

“So what do you want of me?” the sun asked.

“I want you to help me turn myself into the wind,” the boy answered.

“Nature knows me as the wisest being in creation,” the sun said. “But I don’t know how to turn you into the wind.”

“Then, whom should I ask?”

The sun thought for a minute. The wind was listening closely, and wanted to tell every corner of the world that the sun’s wisdom had its limitations. That it was unable to deal with this boy who spoke the Language of the World. “Speak to the hand that wrote all,” said the sun.

The wind screamed with delight, and blew harder than ever. The tents were being blown from their ties to the earth, and the animals were being freed from their tethers. On the cliff, the men clutched at each other as they sought to keep from being blown away.

The boy turned to the hand that wrote all. As he did so, he sensed that the universe had fallen silent, and he decided not to speak.

A current of love rushed from his heart, and the boy began to pray. It was a prayer that he had never said before, because it was a prayer without words or pleas. His prayer didn’t give thanks for his sheep having found new pastures; it didn’t ask that the boy be able to sell more crystal; and it didn’t beseech that the woman he had met continue to await his return. In the silence, 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 to understand what had been written on a single emerald. He saw that omens were scattered throughout the earth and in space, and that there was no

reason or significance attached to their appearance; he could see that not the deserts, nor the winds, nor the sun, nor people knew why they had been created. But that the hand had a reason for all of this, and that only the hand could perform miracles, or transform the sea into a desert… or a man into the wind. Because only the hand understood that it was a larger design that had moved the universe to the point at which six days of creation had evolved into a Master Work.

The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was a part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.