“First published in the 1920’s, The Prophet, Gibran’s hugely popular guide to living, has sold millions of copies worldwide and is the most famous work of religious fiction of the twentieth century.”
When I first read this book, I couldn’t put it down. I was flabbergasted every time I turned a page and couldn’t get enough. In this book, Kahlil Gibran speaks of many things central to daily life: love, marriage, death, beauty, passion, eating, work and play. Although this book is based on spirituality and religion, it continues to inspire people from all religions to live their lives by these values. I was genuinely surprised to find a book containing spiritual thoughts and opinions without forcing a certain religion on any reader. I was born and raised in Christianity and never questioned. At times I really believed, and at other times I questioned the Bible. I never dared question too much though, as I was taught that I would be punished by God for disrespecting the religion. It went on like this for years – until I met my partner who is Agnostic. She helped me come to the realization that it’s OKAY to ask questions. To not be a sheep and just follow whatever I’m taught. Since then, I’ve been looking for books with a spiritual nature without enforcing religion. Kahlil Gibran really did a great job when writing this book. I see it as the Bible across all religions.
Who is Kahlil Gibran?
Born on 6 January 1883, Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese-American writer and poet who wrote in both English and Arabic. Gibran is the 3rd-best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Laozi. Gibran had strengthened beliefs in the fundamental unity of religions, which his parents exemplified by welcoming people of various religions into their home. This is part of the beauty to me because Christian people are of the opinion that other religions are wrong. In actual fact, this book was written by an Islamic author, yet most of his prophecies correlate with scriptures of the bible.
I think that is another reason why I love his work so much. Regardless of the religion you follow or don’t follow, you’ll be able to relate to this book in particular. I think these are values we all should be living by – regardless of who or what you believe in. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t really matter which god we serve, or if we serve one, but rather how we live our lives and touch the lives of others.
Snippets from the book
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 in the garden.
For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
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 tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
Not even in your dreams.
You often say: “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely, he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights as worthy of all else from you.
Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,
It is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.
The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise, he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.
The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart that lives in your lips,
And the sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.
For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
These are just a few of the things he writes about in this book. I highly recommend getting this book to read his thoughts and prophecies on other topics such as Joy & Sorrow, Houses, Clothes, Time, Pleasure, Beauty and many more! I didn’t want to quote too much of the book as I feel it wouldn’t do the book justice. I fell in love with it the first time I read it, and have always wanted my own copy.
About a month or two ago we went to a secondhand bookstore where I found an old copy of the book. It was gifted to someone for their birthday, as it had a little romantic note on the first page. I loved this – this particular book has traveled and tells a story of love and loss.
I would love to know if this couple ever got together in the end? Guess I will never know!
~ Liezl Mitton
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