Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Solve et coagula

Author: Paulo Coelho

There’s a motto in Alchemy: “Concentrate and dissolve”.

As you may know alchemists would, through laboratory studies, try to distill the mercury from the sulfur and then refine the mercury until it converted into gold.
This quest would lead them to the Philosopher Stone (which was the solid component) and the Elixir of Long Life (not the Elixir of Immortality – because the longer you live, the chances of an accident increases).

Through this routine, alchemists are also training their patience and thus transforming their perception of the world.

They respect the main teaching of the I Ching: ‘To persevere is favourable.’
Perseverance is not the same thing as insistence. There are times when battles go on longer than necessary, draining everybody of strength and enthusiasm.
A prolonged war finally destroys the victors too.
We must know when to insist, and when to withdraws our forces from the battlefield.
Solve (dissolve) means: time to rest
Coagula (concentrate) means: time to act

The two worst strategic mistakes are: acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip


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