THE PROPHET by Kahlil Gibran
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
— The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
In the spirit of the Holy month of Ramadan, I can think of no better book to write about than this one. As Ramadan is mostly the month of giving to receive countless blessings and bounties, this book will make you strive to be selfless and more mindful of others needs.
Kahlil Gibran, in this timeless book, writes about the ideal way of living each role in one’s life – be it of a child, parent, spouse, teacher etc. and experiencing each moment as a learning that will lead you to fulfilling your purpose in life, and eventually – God’s plan.
The book starts with the Prophet Al-Mustafa standing on a hill in a small town of Orphalese, looking upon on a ship coming into the harbor on which he is destined to embark on the next lag of his journey. The people, upon realizing that he will leave soon, ask him to impart some last few words of wisdom about each aspect of life.
About love, he says that a person must not only expect good things to happen to him when in love. Love is a powerful force which prunes a person, diminishing some negative aspects of his self and making him perfect in such a way that fulfils God’s plan in the long term. We are short-sighted beings who cannot understand that whatever happens is for a greater good and, as a result, keep complaining. However, one must allow love to take its course, even through sadness and despair.
Marriage does not mean adapting oneself to the partner’s wishes. It is holding your own values and personality as well as accepting and encompassing your spouse’s belief. It is not, as is usually said, that two people become one. A marriage, in true sense, should allow each person so develop individually while growing together.
Even in the 21st century, especially in Asia, parents still look at their children as their old-age security. However, Kahlil begs to differ. Children are the pioneers of tomorrow. Parents should not force them to live or behave in a particular way or force their own unattained dreams and desires on their children. Rather let them grow into their own persons. Let them create their own individuality and life. Only then can they fulfill their life’s purpose.
In today’s world, we see so many workaholics. However, hardly anyone is truly happy by their work. Earning money provides material satisfaction but it is not food for the soul. Work should be such that “you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born.” The way you show your love by making people happy with your work is where the true essence lies. A person who is happy in his job or workplace can easily tell you that work is the right path to self-fulfillment.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” As humans, we prefer only happy and healthy times. Little do we realize that we feel happy only because we have experienced pain. Without sorrow, there can be no joy. Suffering is needed to heal our souls. With the breaking of our hearts and expectations, we realize that things can be more and bigger than our understanding of them. Once you take pain as an experience rather than an emotion, you will be able to marvel at the spectrum of human emotions and also, develop your selves and be more serene with aspect to your emotions. A soul can develop only through struggles.
Kahlil Gibran has warned us of our attachment to material things. It is what nature has bestowed upon us that we should value more. Being materialistic will destroy your soul and take you farther away from God.
He has emphasized of our time in this world as a passing phase. When we pray, we should not ask for material things or any good future, as God is already aware of all our wants and needs. Rather one should ask for fulfillment of his life’s purpose and ask for a bigger part in the Almighty’s eternal plan. Religion is not about blindly praying to God. Religion and God are present in our hearts and in oneself. Serve these by serving others and making your actions count.
Gibran has covered an array of other topics all of which encompass the true way of living to experience our existence to the maximum and to be aware of our purpose in life. This book makes you strive to be better individuals and make you aware of the difference between your needs and wants. It makes us realize that whatever turns our life takes, it will help our souls grow!