The Prophet

Finally, I finished reading The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, which I had been reading on and off for quite a long time.

The Prophet is written in the form of short discourses on various subjects by Almustafa, the wise one, to the people of Orphalese, as he prepares to leave the place.

It is quite a small book, but something that needed me to stop and contemplate time and again. I found some of Gibran’s thoughts really beautiful, while in my heart, I couldn’t agree with some highly idealistic thoughts of his. Overall, I found it to be a deep book, which added to me in a lot of ways; something that I would definitely like to read at a later stage in life and see how I have changed in my way of perceiving things.

I felt amazed to read somewhere that the book has been written as long back as in the 1920s. My rating for the book: 3 Stars

I read this book for the OT ’09 Challenge, and the count is now 9 down, 1 more to go!

The stopover was at Lebanon, a country I never thought I would be reading from!!

Read this book, people? Would love to hear your thoughts on it!

***********************************

I leave you with some of my favourite excerpts from the book:

ON MARRIAGE:

  • You were born together  and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
  • Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
  • Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

ON CHILDREN:

  • 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 houses of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,  not even in your dreams.
  • You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
  • You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

ON GIVING:

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

ON WORK:

  • When you work, you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hour turns to music.
  • What is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

ON HOUSES:

  • What have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors? Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power? Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind? Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of word and stone to the holy mountain? Tell me, have you these in your houses? Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters your house as a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?
  • You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down. You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.

ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT:

Like the ocean is your god-self; it remains forever undefiled. And like the ether it lifts but the winged. Even like the sun is your god-self; it knows not the ways of the mole nor seeks it the holes of the serpent. But your god-self dwells not alone in your being. Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man but a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening.

ON LAWS:

You can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?

ON REASON AND PASSION:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgement wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord adn the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

ON PAIN:

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility. For, his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen, and the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

ON SELF-KNOWLEDGE:

  •  Seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line. For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
  • Say not ‘I have found the truth’, but rather ‘I have found a truth’.  Say not ‘I have found the path of the soul’. Say rather ‘I have met the soul walking upon my path’. For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

ON TEACHING:

  • No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge. 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.
  • Even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.

ON TALKING:

When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market place, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue. Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;  For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered when the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more.

ON TIME:

  • The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness, and knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is but today’s dream. And that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.
  • If in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons, and let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

ON PLEASURE:

  • Even your body knows its heritage and its rightful need and will not be deceived. And your body is the harp of your soul,  And it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds.
  • And now you ask in your heart, “How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?” 
    Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower, 
    But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee. 
    For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, 
    And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love, 
    And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy. 
    People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.

ON RELIGION:

Is not religion all deeds and all reflection, and that whcih is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom? Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations? Who can spread his hours before him, saying,  “This for God and this for myself; this for my soul, and this other for my body?” All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self.

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10 Comments

Filed under Reading Ramana

10 responses to “The Prophet

  1. Have been meaning to read this for a long time now. Will do soon.
    Sorry, but I didn’t get the Lebonan part?

  2. priyaiyer

    @praveen

    do check it out. worth a read, for sure!
    as for the lebanon part, i have almost always read authors from india and usa. brazil at the most. i am super excited to have read a book from a lebanese author!! i never thought i would be doing that till i got to know of this Orbis Terrarum Challenge – the challenge was to read 10 different authors from 10 different countries from March to December 2009. I’ll be finishing it soon and putting up the review of the 10th book. i did the challenge last year too and it was great fun. expanded my reading quite a bit. you can find more details about the challenge if you click on the link in the post.

    hope this helped!

  3. Praveen

    Ah ok! Thanks for the explanation. I have only being paying attention to your reviews and avoiding the links. Will check them out.

  4. just discovered u r blog today.. I love the challenges u take up.. u can see me around here more often.
    this one Sounds deep… would definitely want to read it someday.

  5. This sounds rather deep.
    If you enjoy such books, I would recommend Richard Bach too (especially Jonathan Livingston Seagull), but you may already have read him.

  6. I read a few of Bach’s books atleast 8-9 yrs back and i liked his stuff.i remember liking Jonathan Livingston seagull & Illusions.I doubt if i would like it now .. but then i would have to revisit his books to say that !

  7. And I am back 🙂 Wedding kept me busy…..looks like I have lots to catch up on here : I like the new green background..will read the books and let you know.

  8. priyaiyer

    @praveen

    do check them out… and i’m sure the challenge will be up next year as well… it’s a nice way of expanding your reading…

    @bedazzled

    welcome here! feel free to leave comments about the books you’ve read… and suggestions for me are also most welcome!! 🙂 and yes, do check out ‘the prophet’… worth a read for sure..

    @chennai ramblings and bedazzled

    i hav read two books by bach – the bridge across forever and jonathan livingston seagull… i would say i love the concepts that he puts forth in his books, though i find it a bit too much descriptive at times.. especially the flying and the ‘getting out of the body’ experiences that he describes… am in the process of reading illusions now 🙂

    @vivek

    wedding-aa?? kanakarajoolashuns!! 🙂
    hope u like reading the books…

  9. Ava

    Totally worth reading. It is really good of you to provide the excerpts. As you say, you cant agree with them all, but some statements really make you think again. I liked the one about the house.

  10. priyaiyer

    @ava

    welcome here, and thanks for the comment!
    i loved the one about the house too! makes a lot of sense…
    do let me know how you liked the book, in case you do read it sometime..

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