This one’s for you if you’re interested in what appears to be a non religious book of morals.

I was given this funny little book by my dad and I’m still not exactly sure how to describe it. Gibran is a poet and philosopher, but The Prophet is like its own wee holy book, and includes some of the most powerful quotes I have come across. Maybe it IS a holy book? So what makes a holy book a holy book? The association with an organised religion? But while we’re at it, what is religion? What makes a set of beliefs ‘qualify’ as a religion? Is it being part of a group? Is it how we identify with a set of beliefs? And isn’t it funny to think of how many people who may not formally identify with a religion live their lives by morals or ideals that are in fact the same principles that other people call religion? So what is the difference between these people and those that call themselves “religious”? Hmm…

Love. “And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.” p14

Marriage “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.” p17

Giving. “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?…Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?” p20

Work. “And all work is empty save when there is love…Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.” p29/30

Sorrow. “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” p33

Punishment. “And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone. Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone. And this also, though the word lie heavy upon your hearts: the murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder, And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.” p44

Reason and Passion. “Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgement wage war against your passion and your appetite…Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the 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.” p55

Talking. “And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.” p66

Death. “If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide into the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of Spring.” p87

“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 the ocean by the frailty of its foam. To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.” p93

“That which seems most feeble and bewildered in you is the strongest and most determined. Is it not your breath that has erected and hardened the structure of your bones?” p101

 

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