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[Book Review] ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran

Prophet_Kahlil_Gibran

Here awaits a New Year and a New Year dawn for us, and here I go with retrospection of some of the beautiful reads this year. The biggest and the brightest being the re-read of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, celebrated Lebanese-American author.

The Prophet published in 1923 and subsequently translated into more than twenty languages across the globe. It’s a beautifully compiled book of prose poetry with spiritual uplifting thoughts, discussing various topics such as Love & Marriage, Children, Work, Sorrow & Pain, Prayer, Friendship, Freedom and so on.

 The story begins when a man named Al-Mustafa, living on an island called Orphalese, descends from a hill. He waited for twelve long years for his ship to take him back home. And now when he descends, he realizes his sadness in leaving behind the people of that island, that he has come to know over these twelve years.

During his descent, people gather around him and ask him to speak on various topics, and what he says in response forms the basis of this beautifully compiled book.

 I will include below some of my favorite quotes from the book on numerous topics:

 Love:

“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

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.”

 “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, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.”

 Marriage:

“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.”

 Giving:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

 “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.

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.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.

And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;

They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.

Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

 Freedom:

“…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.”

 Pain:

“Much of your pain is self-chosen.

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.”

 Friendship:

“Your friend is your needs answered.”

 “And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.”

 While defining these topics, as asked by the gathered people, Al-Mustafa reveals a philosophy wrapped around spirituality that provides a meaningful and different outlook on life.

As he prepares himself to board his ship, to take a journey towards his native land, it brings forth the basic essence that what he refers to a journey is not only across the seas but beyond this world.

 I read this book a decade back, and revisiting it again refreshed all those memories. My perception towards the world has changed now, and I find paradigm shift in understanding the underlying philosophy that Gibran has dictated.

An added insight into life and its ways, this re-read rewarded me with, also, a new dimension towards life and the years that passed by. With its ethereal language, a heavenly perspective and a progressive outlook, this book will sow fertile seeds of hope, faith and a new dimension towards life in your mind. So here I pass on this legacy of Khalil Gibran to you.

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