Lessons From Books: The Prophet

A hero’s journey has three parts. The journey starts with the call to action, where the hero leaves his known world and ventures into the unknown. The second phase is the adventure itself, which is full of trials and tribulations that result in inner growth and often with external reward. Last, the return home, the hero returns and shares his insight, new found knowledge, and his boon with his people. In The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, we find the central figure, Almustafa, The Chosen and The Beloved, about to start the last step of the hero’s journey and return to his isle of his birth. Before he departs, he shares the insight he has gained living in the city of Orphalese over the past twelve years. 

On Love

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.

You don’t possess love but rather you follow it. When you give yourself up to love, you get both the highs and the lows. The highs of feeling loved, of loving someone, of carrying love within, but because you are so committed and vulnerable if that love leaves you or it diminishes over time, you feel heartache and sorrow which leaves you wounded. But you can’t have one without the other. You can’t truly feel love if you’re shielding yourself from the possible wound that may come with it. In a way, you know you’re in love if you’re willing to take on the potential pain that may come.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. 

Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Love requires a letting go. It requires trust. It requires obedience, so even when you’re hurt by it, next time you encounter it, you follow it anyway because life is more vivid if you experience it with love.

If you want love’s light, then you need to accept its shadow as well.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

And ultimately, you have to love for the sake of love itself. To live with that feeling inside of you. It’s a choice that you must make.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

On Marriage

The point of marriage is to nurture each other to become the best versions of yourselves. It is not to take from the other to fill some hole inside of you and vice versa. When you come together, you don’t become one, but rather, you stand apart, as individuals, who help the other share the burden of life and with it, help with the maturation of the individual. 

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.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

To be married means to become two capable individuals. Not two people who need each other to become capable. Each has to create a solid foundation for themselves. Two people can share one foundation. In a marriage, you help the other in strengthening their foundation, but don’t take from the other to strengthen your own. 

On 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.

Your children don’t belong to you. They belong to life. Your duty is to raise them for life. They are individuals, separate from you. With their own identity, likes and dislikes, passions and beliefs which may contradict with you but that is okay because they have to be themselves and not a version of 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.”

Nurture the individual, don’t try to mold them. You are to provide your child with stability and allow him/her to leave that stability behind and go seek, find and create their own stability. Don’t burden your child with your own hopes and dreams, rather let them find their own and then guide them towards fulfilling them.

On Giving

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.


Who are you to judge who earns your giving? You take from nature, nature doesn’t judge you. You are truly selfless if you can separate your judgement from your giving.

On Working

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.

Life is about working. It is about moving, changing, progressing, acting. Everything on this planet is in motion and working. It is natural to work. All animals work. So dreaming about retirement, to be idle and passive is to go against nature. At the same time, you’re not obligated to work every day but you must have something to work towards. 

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.

To work is the dream. Hopefully, that attitude can apply to your career, but if not, then towards your hobbies and interests, towards your family life, your community, and society. Working always to build something better.

What It Means To Work With Love

And 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.


It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.


It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.


It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,


And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”

On Joy and Sorrow

Joy and sorrow go hand in hand. The more you open yourself up to one, the more you open yourself up to the other.

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.

The duality of life. Often if you want to experience the highest joy, you have to open yourself up to the highest sorrow. Chasing your dream will bring you great pleasure, but failing to achieve it will leave you full of disappointment and pain. Being in love will feel better than anything, but losing love will cause sorrow unimaginable.

On Crime and Punishment

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.


But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,


So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

Each individual is capable of the highest virtue and lowest vice. If another man does something heinous, understand that you could have done that too. You are not special. In different circumstances and environments, you would have been that individual who commits evil. You are not above evil. Observe and learn from your fellow man. 

So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.

Don’t just condemn the bad action. See why it took place. You are not trying to justify the bad but rather, seeing how it could have been avoided. 

And that the corner-stone of the temple is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation.

On Pain

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

Pain is associated with understanding. You feel pain when you think you understand something, but it turns out you are wrong. Although that causes pain, through it you gain a new understanding. So, pain isn’t something that should be avoided at all costs. It is a part of your progression. It is painful to have your ideas, viewpoints, relationships, dreams, habits, and beliefs challenged and even proven wrong. But through this pain, you make new ideas, viewpoints, relationships, dreams, habits, and beliefs which stand on sturdier foundations.

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

View pain like this and you know it shall pass. As the season’s turn, your pain will change. But also remember, joy follows this pattern too. So on joyful occasions, understand that it will pass and pains downpour will come. So, while you are in the moment, enjoy it. Both things are part of life and both things will not last. 

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

Only things you care about cause you pain. So, be careful about the things you care about. Ask yourself, are you willing to experience pain on its behalf? 

On Self Knowledge

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”

Much of life is about finding your way of life. The truth that works for you. Not universal truth, but a truth to satisfy your soul, your being. Your methods of living will not satisfy other people. Other people’s methods will not satisfy you. The sooner you understand that, the better. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of your precious time living someone else’s truth or trying to convince others to live your truth. 

On Friendship 

And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live.

For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

On Good And Evil 

You are good when you are one with yourself.

Don’t lie to yourself.

You are good when you strive to give of yourself.

Help others.

You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,

Don’t lie to others.

You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.

Have an aim.


You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,

You are only loitering and sluggard.

Good can also become evil through desperation. This is an important reminder. You never know what you are capable of until you are pushed to your limits. People are rarely evil from birth. It is often circumstances and their environment that cause them to do evil. Don’t just judge people who have done bad things, but try to see why they did it so you can know what you might be capable of doing and how to stop yourself from getting to that point. 

Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.


For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?


Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.

Self Perspective 

You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.

This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link.

To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.

To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.

Don’t harp on the negative, on the failures, or disappointments. Those things easily stand out and focusing on them too much can cause you to develop a negative self-image. The weak links of your actions can make you think you are weak too. Life is full of weak moments but it is also full of strong ones as well. Remember, you have achieved things, no matter how minute they may seem, but anything that required effort, hard work, discipline to achieve is something to be proud of. Cookie Jar. Those achievements are the strong links and focusing on them lets you know you are strong as well and that you can achieve other things that require strength.