On The Prophet

I recently re-read The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- Love: “When love beckons to you, follow him. Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him. Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him. Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.”

2- Children: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

3- Giving: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow ? And to-morrow, what shall to-morrow bring to the over-prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city ? And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable i There are those who give little of the much which they have—and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. id there are those who have little and give it all. And there are those who have little and give it all.These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.”

4- Work: “You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite. When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent. when all else sings together in unison? Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune. But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born. And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life, And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.”

5- Joy and Sorrow: “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be ? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven ? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives ? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

6- Freedom: “At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom. Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them. Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff. And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment. You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your  nights without a want and a grief. But rather when these things girdle your  life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.”

7- Reason and Passion: “I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house. Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.”

8- Friendship: “Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace. When your friend speaks his mind you fear not die “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.” And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed. When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

The Prophet

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