26 June 2007

The Wisdom of the Prophet

A few months ago, I encountered a page of quotations at AllSpirit.co.uk when I did a Google search for song lyrics. Some of the quotations were by a man named Khalil Gibran, and I found them to be very insightful. I found others at Wikiquote. I enjoyed reading his thoughts very much, and found a book that he had written called The Prophet. I thought I would share some of my favorite thoughts of his.

From AllSpirit & Wikiquote:

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry,
the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness
which does not bow before children.

Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.

From The Prophet:

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; for love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say 'God is in my heart', but rather, 'I am in the heart of God." And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no desire but to fulfill itself.

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 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. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

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.

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 into your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

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 and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers all of your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing. And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily ressurection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I hope you enjoyed those. They are only a small selection of the beauty found in The Prophet. On a similar note, I found original recordings from another "prophet", albeit a secular one. The Council for Secular Humanism has available for download several recordings of Robert G. Ingersoll. These are original Edison recordings. As you can imagine, the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. "Creed" is the only one that I've been able to understand completely.

"For while I am opposed to all orthodox creeds, I have a creed myself. And my creed is this. Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so. This creed is somewhat short, but it is long enough for this life; long enough for this world. If there is another world, when we get there we can make another creed. But this creed certainly will do for this life."

I believe Ingersoll is an older man at this point and is speaking slowly and deliberately into Edison's primitive recording machine, so this isn't a performance where "lightening glared around the words" as Mark Twain wrote about Ingersoll's speeches. Even still, I believe these recordings are worth listening to solely for the historical and sentimental value.


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Greg said...

Great post. I have liked the writing of Gibran since finding a copy of The Prophet at my grandparents house as a child. My wife and I had a couple passages from The Prophet read at our wedding.