"When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him
may be clearer in his absence,
as the mountain to the climber
is clearer from the plain."
I had a “oh fuck” moment as I read these words for the very first time. It was as if someone was imprinting it into my soul with a red hot branding iron, except that the sensation was amazingly wonderful.
A few minutes later I was feeling elated and sad at the same time.
Sad, because it seems that I had wasted half my life without discovering the wonderful writings of Khalil Gibran. Elated that at least the rest of my life would be spent immersed in the beauty of his words and wisdom.
SH had told me about Khalil Gibran at least a year back. Specially of his book called “The Prophet” but I never thought that the reading experience would be this amazing and shunned it aside. In fact I can remember thumbing through a greatest works compilation of Khalil Gibran at the Odel book shop and putting it back on the shelf once more. An action I regret to this day.
But a couple of months ago I was going through a lot of angst. A lot of bitterness and self doubt was welling up inside me. RC who knew of what was going on walked into my office and thrust her own personal copy of “The Prophet” into my hand and said “I found a lot of comfort in his words when I was having issues. I hope you do too; sadly I can’t let you keep it as this was a gift”.
And since then I have been infatuated… no addicted to Khalil Gibran.
I have never found a man who can say such great things with such humble simplicity. His words mesmerized me so much that I had to probe further. And what I found out mesmerized me even more.
Khalil Gibran was born in Lebanon but raised in the USA. He is both a writer and an artist. His book the philosopher is the second largest selling book in the world next to the bible. That the university of Maryland has dedicated and entire faculty to study his work. There is an interesting article on him here as well as here if you would like to find out more details about him. But right now I want to share with you one of my most favorite passages from “The Prophet” talking about goodness.
"And one of the elders of the city said,
Speak to us of Good and Evil.
And he answered:
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.
You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves;
it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles
yet sink not to the bottom.
You are good when you strive to give of yourself.
Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself.
For when you strive for gain
you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.
Surely the fruit cannot say to the root,
"Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance."
For the fruit giving is a need,
as receiving is a need to the root.
You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,
Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose.
And even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.
You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
Even those who limp go not backward.
But you who are strong and swift,
see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.
You are good in countless ways,
and you are not evil when you are not good,
You are only loitering and sluggard.
Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.
In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness:
and that longing is in all of you.
But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea,
carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
And in others it is a flat stream
that loses itself in angles and bends
and lingers before it reaches the shore.
But let not him who longs much
say to him who longs little,
"Wherefore are you slow and halting?"
For the truly good ask not the naked,
"Where is your garment?"
nor the houseless,
"What has befallen your house?"
Is it not beautiful? I have never come across writing as profound as this.