Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Prophet

This is a book that was originally printed in 1923 and has been re-printed over a 120 times. It is of course a classic, but one I had not read until now. The wisdom of Gibran is et inside a fable. A prophet, Almustafa, who had lived for twelve years in the city of Orphalese, awaiting a ship to carry him back to his home land. His ship arrives, but before he leaves, he answers questions from the city’s residents. Those questions concern 25 issues as important to us as they were to people in 1923.

When asked about marriage, he advises, “But let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of heaven dance between you.”

On work, “When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.”

With respect to joy, he advises, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”

On buying and selling, he says, “It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will lead some to greed and others to hunger.”

He was asked about 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 wine is remembered when the color is forgotten and the vessel is no more.”

On pleasure, he said, “It is the blossoming of your desires, but it is not their fruit.”

This is a book of mystery with deep understanding that requires not just reading but studying. I read the book once, and read it again. Something I’ve never done before. It would be fun to read it out loud to each other and then discuss.

The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran, Alfred Knopf, 1992, 96 p

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