Kahlil Gibran Quotes

Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883 – 1931), usually referred to in English as Kahlil Gibran, was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, also considered a philosopher although he himself rejected this title in his lifetime

  • Vain are the beliefs and teachings that make man miserable, and false is the goodness that leads him into sorrow and despair, for it is man’s purpose to be happy on this earth and lead the way to felicity and preach its gospel wherever he goes. He who does not see the kingdom of heaven in this life will never see it in the coming life. We came not into this life by exile, but we came as innocent creatures of God, to learn how to worship the holy and eternal spirit and seek the hidden secrets within ourselves from the beauty of life. This is the truth which I have learned from the teachings of the Nazarene.
    • Khalil in Spirits Rebellious (1908) “Khalil The Heretic” Part 3
  • Let us disperse from our aloofness and serve the weak who made us strong, and cleanse the country in which we live. Let us teach this miserable nation to smile and rejoice with heaven’s bounty and glory of life and freedom.
    • Khalil in Spirits Rebellious (1908) “Khalil The Heretic” Part 3
  • I believe that you can say to Abraham Lincoln, the blessed, “Jesus of Nazareth touched your lips when you spoke, and guided your hand when you wrote; and I shall uphold all that you have said and all that you have written.”
    I believe that you can say to Emerson and Whitman and James, “In my veins runs the blood of the poets and wise men of old, and it is my desire to come to you and receive, but I shall not come with empty hands.”
    I believe that even as your fathers came to this land to produce riches, you were born here to produce riches by intelligence, by labor.
    I believe that it is in you to be good citizens.

    • “I Believe In You (To The Americans Of Lebanese Origin)” in This Man from Lebanon: A Study of Kahlil Gibran (1945) by Barbara Young, p. 136
  • The creator gives no heed to the critic unless he becomes a barren inventor.
    • Spiritual Sayings of Kahlil Gibran (1962) as translated by Anthony R. Ferris
  • My enemy said to me, “Love your enemy.” And I obeyed him and loved myself.
    • Spiritual Sayings of Kahlil Gibran
  • Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.
    • A Handful of Sand on the Shore, as quoted in Alterquest: the Alternative Quest for Answers (2006) by Karen Fiala, p. 127
  • The tears that you spill, the sorrowful, are sweeter than the laughter of snobs and the guffaws of scoffers.
    • A Handful of Sand on the Shore
  • To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but what he aspires to.
    • As quoted in Become a Conscious Creator: A Return to Self-Empowerment (2007) by Lisa Ford, p. 44

Gibran Khalil Gibran

The Madman (1918)

  • For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”
    Thus I became a madman.

    And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.
    But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.

    • Introduction
  • My friend, I am not what I seem. Seeming is but a garment I wear — a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.
    The “I” in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.
    I would not have thee believe in what I say nor trust in what I do — for my words are naught but thy own thoughts in sound and my deeds thy own hopes in action.

    • My Friend
  • I know faces, because I look through the fabric my own eye weaves, and behold the reality beneath.
    • Faces
  • I go — as others already crucified have gone. And think not we are weary of crucifixion. For we must be crucified by larger and yet larger men, between greater earths and greater heavens.
    • Crucified
  • Once there ruled in the distant city of Wirani a king who was both mighty and wise. And he was feared for his might and loved for his wisdom. Now, in the heart of that city was a well, whose water was cool and crystalline, from which all the inhabitants drank, even the king and his courtiers; for there was no other well. One night when all were asleep, a witch entered the city, and poured seven drops of strange liquid into the well, and said, “From this hour he who drinks this water shall become mad.” Next morning all the inhabitants, save the king and his lord chamberlain, drank from the well and became mad, even as the witch had foretold. And during that day the people in the narrow streets and in the market places did naught but whisper to one another, “The king is mad. Our king and his lord chamberlain have lost their reason. Surely we cannot be ruled by a mad king. We must dethrone him.” That evening the king ordered a golden goblet to be filled from the well. And when it was brought to him he drank deeply, and gave it to his lord chamberlain to drink. And there was great rejoicing in that distant city of Wirani, because its king and its lord chamberlain had regained their reason.

Khalil Gibran Quotes

The Forerunner (1920)

  • You are your own forerunner, and the towers you have builded are but the foundation of your giant-self. And that self too shall be a foundation.
    And I too am my own forerunner, for the long shadow stretching before me at sunrise shall gather under my feet at the noon hour. Yet another sunrise shall lay another shadow before me, and that also shall be gathered at another noon.
    Always have we been our own forerunners, and always shall we be. And all that we have gathered and shall gather shall be but seeds for fields yet unploughed. We are the fields and the ploughmen, the gatherers and the gathered.
  • O love, whose lordly hand
    Has bridled my desires,
    And raised my hunger and my thirst
    To dignity and pride
    ,
    Let not the strong in me and the constant
    Eat the bread or drink the wine
    That tempt my weaker self.
    Let me rather starve,
    And let my heart parch with thirst,
    And let me die and perish,
    Ere I stretch my hand
    To a cup you did not fill,
    Or a bowl you did not bless.

    • “Love”

The Prophet (1923)

  • Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.
  • Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have found the soul walking upon my path.” For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
  • 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.
  • Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.
  • For in truth it is life that gives unto life-while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

Khalil Gibran Quotes

Sand and Foam (1926)

  • Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you.
    • This line was later paraphrased by John Lennon, in his song “Julia”, on The Beatles (1968): “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you, Julia.”
  • A sense of humour is a sense of proportion.
  • My loneliness was born when men praised my talkative faults and blamed my silent virtues.
  • When Life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind.
  • A truth is to be known always, to be uttered sometimes.
  • Strange that creatures without backbones have the hardest shells.
  • Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.
  • There must be something strangely sacred about salt. It is in our tears and in the sea
  • I would be the least among men with dreams and the desire to fulfill them, rather than the greatest with no dreams and no desires.

Jesus, The Son of Man (1928)

  • My face and your faces shall not be masked; our hand shall hold neither sword nor sceptre, and our subjects shall love us in peace and shall not be in fear of us.”
    Thus spoke Jesus, and unto all the kingdoms of the earth I was blinded, and unto all the cities of walls and towers; and it was in my heart to follow the Master to His kingdom.

    • James The Son Of Zebedee: On The Kingdoms Of The World
  • I was dead. I was a woman who had divorced her soul. I was living apart from this self which you now see. I belonged to all men, and to none. They called me harlot, and a woman possessed of seven devils. I was cursed, and I was envied.
    But when His dawn-eyes looked into my eyes all the stars of my night faded away, and I became Miriam, only Miriam, a woman lost to the earth she had known, and finding herself in new places.

    • Mary Magdalen: On Meeting Jesus For The First Time
  • He stood up and looked at me even as the seasons might look down upon the field, and He smiled. And He said again: “All men love you for themselves. I love you for yourself.”
    And then He walked away.
    But no other man ever walked the way He walked. Was it a breath born in my garden that moved to the east? Or was it a storm that would shake all things to their foundations?
    I knew not, but on that day the sunset of His eyes slew the dragon in me, and I became a woman, I became Miriam, Miriam of Mijdel.

    • Mary Magdalen: On Meeting Jesus For The First Time
  • He knew the depth of beauty, He was for ever surprised by its peace and its majesty; and He stood before the earth as the first man had stood before the first day.
    We whose senses have been dulled, we gaze in full daylight and yet we do not see. We would cup our ears, but we do not hear; and stretch forth our hands, but we do not touch. And though all the incense of Arabia is burned, we go our way and do not smell.

    • A Philosopher: On Wonder And Beauty
  • In truth we gaze but do not see, and hearken but do not hear; we eat and drink but do not taste. And there lies the difference between Jesus of Nazareth and ourselves.
    His senses were all continually made new, and the world to Him was always a new world.

    • A Philosopher: On Wonder And Beauty
  • Many are the fools who say that Jesus stood in His own path and opposed Himself; that He knew not His own mind, and in the absence of that knowledge confounded Himself.
    Many indeed are the owls who know no song unlike their own hooting.
    You and I know the jugglers of words who would honor only a greater juggler, men who carry their heads in baskets to the market-place and sell them to the first bidder.
    We know the pygmies who abuse the sky-man. And we know what the weed would say of the oak tree and the cedar.
    I pity them that they cannot rise to the heights.

    • Nicodemus The Poet, The Youngest Of The Elders In The Sanhedrim: On Fools And Jugglers
  • There are the men who say, “He preached tenderness and kindliness and filial love, yet He would not heed His mother and His brothers when they sought Him in the streets of Jerusalem.”
    They do not know that His mother and brothers in their loving fear would have had Him return to the bench of the carpenter, whereas He was opening our eyes to the dawn of a new day.

    His mother and His brothers would have had Him live in the shadow of death, but He Himself was challenging death upon yonder hill that He might live in our sleepless memory.

    • Nicodemus The Poet, The Youngest Of The Elders In The Sanhedrim: On Fools And Jugglers
  • Do you not remember me, Nicodemus, who believed in naught but the laws and decrees and was in continual subjection to observances?
    And behold me now, a man who walks with life and laughs with the sun from the first moment it smiles upon the mountain until it yields itself to bed behind the hills.

    • Nicodemus The Poet, The Youngest Of The Elders In The Sanhedrim: On Fools And Jugglers
  • Am I less man because I believe in a greater man?
    The barriers of flesh and bone fell down when the Poet of Galilee spoke to me; and I was held by a spirit, and was lifted to the heights, and in midair my wings gathered the song of passion.
    And when I dismounted from the wind and in the Sanhedrim my pinions were shorn, even then my ribs, my featherless wings, kept and guarded the song. 
    And all the poverties of the lowlands cannot rob me of my treasure.
    I have said enough. Let the deaf bury the humming of life in their dead ears. I am content with the sound of His lyre, which He held and struck while the hands of His body were nailed and bleeding.

    • Nicodemus The Poet, The Youngest Of The Elders In The Sanhedrim: On Fools And Jugglers
  • He was gentle, like a man mindful of his own strength.
    In my dreams I beheld the kings of the earth standing in awe in His presence.

    • Mary Magdalen: His Mouth Was Like the Heart of a Pomegranate
  • I admired Him as a man rather than as a leader. He preached something beyond my liking, perhaps beyond my reason. And I would have no man preach to me.
    I was taken by His voice and His gestures, not by the substance of His speech. He charmed me but never convinced me; for He was too vague, too distant and obscure to reach my mind.
    I have known other men like Him. They are never constant nor are they consistent. It is with eloquence not with principles that they hold your ear and your passing thought, but never the core of your heart.

    • Manasseh: On the Speech and Gesture of Jesus
  • In every aspect of the day Jesus was aware of the Father. He beheld Him in the clouds and in the shadows of the clouds that pass over the earth. He saw the Father’s face reflected in the quiet pools, and the faint print of His feet upon the sand; and He often closed His eyes to gaze into the Holy Eyes.
    The night spoke to Him with the voice of the Father, and in solitude He heard the angel of the Lord calling to Him. And when He stilled Himself to sleep He heard the whispering of the heavens in His dreams.
    He was often happy with us, and He would call us brothers.
    Behold, He who was the first Word called us brothers, though we were but syllables uttered yesterday.

    • John The Beloved Disciple In His Old Age: On Jesus The Word

Khalil Gibran Quotes

  • You ask why I call Him the first Word.
    Listen, and I will answer:
    In the beginning God moved in space, and out of His measureless stirring the earth was born and the seasons thereof.
    Then God moved again, and life streamed forth, and the longing of life sought the height and the depth and would have more of itself.
    Then God spoke thus, and His words were man, and man was a spirit begotten by God’s Spirit.
    And when God spoke thus, the Christ was His first Word and that Word was perfect; and when Jesus of Nazareth came to the world the first Word was uttered unto us and the sound was made flesh and blood.

    • John The Beloved Disciple In His Old Age: On Jesus The Word
  • We are all sons and daughters of the Most High, but the Anointed One was His first-born, who dwelt in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, and He walked among us and we beheld Him.
    All this I say that you may understand not only in the mind but rather in the spirit. The mind weighs and measures but it is the spirit that reaches the heart of life and embraces the secret; and the seed of the spirit is deathless.
    The wind may blow and then cease, and the sea shall swell and then weary, but the heart of life is a sphere quiet and serene, and the star that shines therein is fixed for evermore.

    • John The Beloved Disciple In His Old Age: On Jesus The Word
  • I have pondered long, and I know now that only the pure of heart forgive the thirst that leads to dead waters.
    And only the sure of foot can give a hand to him who stumbles.

    • Andrew: On Prostitutes
  • Jesus loved me and I knew not why.
    And I loved Him because He quickened my spirit to heights beyond my stature, and to depths beyond my sounding.
    Love is a sacred mystery.
    To those who love, it remains forever wordless;
    But to those who do not love, it may be but a heartless jest.

    • John At Patmos: Jesus The Gracious
  • Love is a gracious host to his guests though to the unbidden his house is a mirage and a mockery.
    Now you would have me explain the miracles of Jesus.
    We are all the miraculous gesture of the moment; our Lord and Master was the centre of that moment.
    Yet it was not in His desire that His gestures be known.

    • John At Patmos: Jesus The Gracious
  • I would tell you more of Him, but how shall I?
    When love becomes vast love becomes wordless.
    And when memory is overladen it seeks the silent deep.

    • John At Patmos: Jesus The Gracious
  • I too died. But in the depth of my oblivion I heard Him speak and say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
    And His voice sought my drowned spirit and I was brought back to the shore.
    And I opened my eyes and I saw His white body hanging against the cloud, and His words that I had heard took the shape within me and became a new man. And I sorrowed no more.
    Who would sorrow for a sea that is unveiling its face, or for a mountain that laughs in the sun?

    Was it ever in the heart of man, when that heart was pierced, to say such words?
    What other judge of men has released His judges? And did ever love challenge hate with power more certain of itself?
    Was ever such a trumpet heard ‘twixt heaven and earth?
    Was it known before that the murdered had compassion on his murderers? Or that the meteor stayed his footsteps for the mole?
    The seasons shall tire and the years grow old, ere they exhaust these words: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    • Philip: And When He Died All Mankind Died
  • In a dream I saw Jesus and My God Pan sitting together in the heart of the forest.
    They laughed at each other’s speech, with the brook that ran near them, and the laughter of Jesus was the merrier. And they conversed long.

    • Sarkis an old Greek Shepherd, called the madman: Jesus and Pan
  • And now let us play our reeds together.
    And they played together.
    And their music smote heaven and earth, and a terror struck all living things.
    I heard the bellow of beasts and the hunger of the forest. And I heard the cry of lonely men, and the plaint of those who long for what they know not.
    I heard the sighing of the maiden for her lover, and the panting of the luckless hunter for his prey.
    And then there came peace into their music, and the heavens and the earth sang together.
    All this I saw in my dream, and all this I heard.

    • Sarkis an old Greek Shepherd, called the madman: Jesus and Pan
  • Once again I say that with death Jesus conquered death, and rose from the grave a spirit and a power. And He walked in our solitude and visited the gardens of our passion.
    He lies not there in that cleft rock behind the stone.
    We who love Him beheld Him with these our eyes which He made to see; and we touched Him with these our hands which He taught to reach forth.

    • Mary Magdalen (Thirty years later): On the Resurrection of the Spirit
  • You hate Jesus because someone from the North Country said He was the Son of God. But you hate one another because each of you deems himself too great to be the brother of the next man.
    • Mary Magdalen (Thirty years later): On the Resurrection of the Spirit
  • You know not that the earth was given in marriage to the sun, and that earth it is who sends us forth to the mountain and the desert.
    There is a gulf that yawns between those who love Him and those who hate Him, between those who believe and those who do not believe.
    But when the years have bridged that gulf you shall know that He who lived in us is deathless, that He was the Son of God even as we are the children of God; that He was born of a virgin even as we are born of the husbandless earth.

    • Mary Magdalen (Thirty years later): On the Resurrection of the Spirit
  • Master, master singer,
    Master of words unspoken
    ,
    Seven times was I born, and seven times have I died
    Since your last hasty visit and our brief welcome.
    And behold I live again,
    Remembering a day and a night among the hills,
    When your tide lifted us up.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • Men would bless you or curse you;
    The curse, a protest against failure,
    The blessing, a hymn of the hunter
    Who comes back from the hills
    With provision for his mate.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • Master, Master Poet,
    Master of words sung and spoken,
    They have builded temples to house your name,
    And upon every height they have raised your cross,
    A sign and a symbol to guide their wayward feet,
    But not unto your joy.
    Your joy is a hill beyond their vision,
    And it does not comfort them.

    They would honour the man unknown to them.
    And what consolation is there in a man like themselves, a man whose
    kindliness is like their own kindliness,
    A god whose love is like their own love,
    And whose mercy is in their own mercy?
    They honour not the man, the living man,
    The first man who opened His eyes and gazed at the sun
    With eyelids unquivering.
    Nay, they do not know Him, and they would not be like Him.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • You laughed for the marrow in their bones that was not yet ready for laughter;
    And you wept for their eyes that yet were dry.

    Your voice fathered their thoughts and their understanding.
    Your voice mothered their words and their breath.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • Here and there, betwixt the cradle and the coffin, I meet your silent brothers,
    The free men, unshackled,
    Sons of your mother earth and space.

    They are like the birds of the sky,
    And like the lilies of the field.
    They live your life and think your thoughts,
    And they echo your song.
    But they are empty-handed,
    And they are not crucified with the great crucifixion,
    And therein is their pain.
    The world crucifies them every day,
    But only in little ways.
    The sky is not shaken,
    And the earth travails not with her dead.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • Master, Master Poet,
    Master of our silent desires,
    The heart of the world quivers with the throbbing of your heart,
    But it burns not with your song.

    The world sits listening to your voice in tranquil delight,
    But it rises not from its seat
    To scale the ridges of your hills.
    Man would dream your dream but he would not wake to your dawn
    Which is his greater dream.
    He would see with your vision,
    But he would not drag his heavy feet to your throne.
    Yet many have been enthroned in your name
    And mitred with your power,
    And have turned your golden visit
    Into crowns for their head and sceptres for their hand.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • Master, Master of Light,
    Whose eye dwells in the seeking fingers of the blind,
    You are still despised and mocked,
    A man too weak and infirm to be God,
    A God too much man to call forth adoration.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • But Master, Sky-heart, Knight of our fairer dream,
    You do still tread this day;
    Nor bows nor spears shall stay your steps.
    You walk through all our arrows.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward
  • Poet, Singer, Great Heart,
    May our God bless your name,
    And the womb that held you, and the breasts that gave you milk.
    And may God forgive us all.

    • A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward

Khalil Gibran Quotes

The Vision: Reflections on the Way of the Soul (1994)

  • I have existed from all eternity and, behold, I am here; and I shall exist till the end of time, for my being has no end.
    I soared into limitless space and took wing in the imaginal world, approaching the circle of exalted light; and here I am now, mired in matter.
    I listened to the teachings of Confucius, imbibed the wisdom of Brahma, and sat beside Buddha beneath the tree of insight. And now I am here, wrestling with ignorance and unbelief. I was on Sinai when Yahweh shed his effulgence on Moses; at the River Jordan I witnessed the miracles of the Nazarene; and in Medina I heard the words of the Messenger to the Arabs. And here I am now, a captive of confusion.

    • The Anthem of Humanity
  • Life without Liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit … Life, liberty, and thought — three persons in one substance, eternal, never-ending, and unceasing.
    • The Vision
  • Love and what generates it. Rebellion and what creates it. Liberty and what nourishes it. Three manifestations of God. And God is the conscience of the rational world.
    • The Vision
  • How amazing time is, and how amazing we are. Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.
    Yesterday we complained of time and feared it, but today we love and embrace it. Indeed, we have begun to perceive its purposes and characteristics, and to comprehend its secrets and enigmas.

    • Children of Gods, Scions of Apes
  • Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.
    • Children of Gods, Scions of Apes
  • All that you see was and is for your sake. The numerous books, uncanny markings, and beautiful thoughts are the ghosts of souls who preceded you. The speech they weave is a link between you and your human siblings. The consequences that cause sorrow and rapture are the seeds that the past has sown in the field of the soul, and by which the future shall profit.
  • My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me to love what the people abhor and to show good will toward the one they hate. It showed me that Love is a property not of the lover but of the beloved. Before my Soul taught me, Love was for me a delicate thread stretched between two adjacent pegs, but now it has been transformed into a halo; its first is its last, and its last is its first. It encompasses every being, slowly expanding to embrace all that ever will be.
  • My yearning is my cup, my burning thirst is my drink, and my solitude is my intoxication; I do not and shall not quench my thirst. But in this burning that is never extinguished is a joy that never wanes.
  • My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me to touch what has never taken corporeal form or crystallized. It made me understand that touching something is half the task of comprehending it, and that what we grasp therein is part of what we desire from it.
  • My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me not to measure time by saying, “It was yesterday, and will be tomorrow.” Before my Soul taught me, I imagined the past as an era not to be met with, and the future as an age that I would never witness. But now I know that in the brief moment of the present, all time exists, including everything that is in time — all that is eagerly anticipated, achieved, or realized.
    My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me not to define a place by saying ‘here’ or ‘there’. Before my Soul taught me, I thought that when I was in any place on the earth I was remote from every other spot. But now I have learned that the place where I subsist is all places, and the space I occupy is all intervals.
  • My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me never to delight in praise or to be distressed by reproach. Before my Soul taught me, I doubted the value of my accomplishments until the passing days sent someone who would extol or disparage them. But now I know that trees blossom in the spring and give their fruits in the summer without any desire for accolades. And they scatter their leaves abroad in the fall and denude themselves in the winter without fear of reproof.
  • My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me and demonstrating to me that I am not exalted over the panhandler nor less than the mighty. Before my Soul taught me, I thought people consisted of two types: the weak, whom I pitied and disregarded, and the powerful, whom I followed or against I rebelled. Now, I have discovered that I was formed as one individual from the same substance from which all human beings were created. I am made up of the same elements as they are, and my pattern is theirs. My struggles are theirs, and my path is theirs.
  • My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me that the lamp which I carry does not belong to me, and the song that I sing was not generated from within me. Even if I walk with light, I am not the light; and if I am a taut-stringed lute, I am not the lute player.

Your Thought and Mine

  • My thought is a tender leaf that sways in every direction and finds pleasure in its swaying. Your thought is an ancient dogma that cannot change you nor can you change it. My thought is new, and it tests me and I test it morn and eve.
    You have your thought and I have mine.
  • Your thought advocates fame and show. Mine counsels me and implores me to cast aside notoriety and treat it like a grain of sand cast upon the shore of eternity. Your thought instills in your heart arrogance and superiority. Mine plants within me love for peace and the desire for independence. Your thought begets dreams of palaces with furniture of sandalwood studded with jewels, and beds made of twisted silk threads. My thought speaks softly in my ears, “Be clean in body and spirit even if you have nowhere to lay your head.” Your thought makes you aspire to titles and offices. Mine exhorts me to humble service.
  • Your thought describes laws, courts, judges, punishments. Mine explains that when man makes a law, he either violates it or obeys it. If there is a basic law, we are all one before it. He who disdains the mean is himself mean. He who vaunts his scorn of the sinful vaunts his disdain of all humanity.
  • Your thought advocates Judaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In my thought there is only one universal religion, whose varied paths are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being. In your thought there are the rich, the poor, and the beggared. My thought holds that there are no riches but life; that we are all beggars, and no benefactor exists save life herself.
  • Your thought sees power in armies, cannons, battleships, submarines, aeroplanes, and poison gas. But mine asserts that power lies in reason, resolution, and truth. No matter how long the tyrant endures, he will be the loser at the end. Your thought differentiates between pragmatist and idealist, between the part and the whole, between the mystic and materialist. Mine realizes that life is one and its weights, measures and tables do not coincide with your weights, measures and tables. He whom you suppose an idealist may be a practical man

Beauty

And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.
And he answered:

Where shall you seek beauty, and how
shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.”
And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.”

The tired and the weary say, “beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”
But the restless say, “We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.”

At night the watchmen of the city say,
“Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.”
And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say,
“we have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.”

In winter say the snow-bound,
“She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”
And in the summer heat the reapers say,
“We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”

All these things have you said of beauty.
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes
and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and your are the mirror.

An excerpt from “The Prophet”

Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
“Speak to us of Children”.
And he said:

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to 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.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So he loves also the bow that is stable.

An excerpt from “The Prophet”

Freedom

Kahlil Gibran Quotes

And an orator said, Speak to us of Freedom ;
And he answered saying:

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you
prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant
and praise him though he slays them.

Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of
the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear
their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be
free when even the desire of seeking freedom
becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to
speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfilment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not
without a care nor your nights without a want and a
grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet
you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and
nights unless you break the chains which you at the
dawn of your understanding have fastened around
your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest
of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun
and dazzle your eyes.
And what is it but fragments of your own self you
would discard that you may become free?

If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was
written with your own hand upon your own
forehead.
You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor
by washing the foreheads of your judges, though
you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first
that his throne erected within you is destroyed.
For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud
but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame
in their own pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has
been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that
fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant
half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the
repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that
which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and
shadows in pairs that cling.
And when the shadow fades and is no more, the
light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters
becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.

An excerpt from “The Prophet”

Friendship

And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.
And he answered, saying:

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love
and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger,
And you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear
the “nay” in your own mind,
nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases
not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires,
all expectations are born and shared,
with joy that is unacclaimed.
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.

And let there be no purpose in friendship
save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure
of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth;
and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb the 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, an sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things
the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

An excerpt from “The Prophet”

Giving

Kahlil Gibran Quotes

Then said a rich man, “Speak to us of Giving.”
And he answered:

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?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow
bring to the over prudent dog
burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the
pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full,
the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little
of the much which they have-
and they give it
for recognition and their hidden desire
makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life,
and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy,
and their joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain,
and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not
pain in giving, nor do they seek joy,
nor give with mindfulness of virtue:
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle
breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God
speaks, and from behind their eyes
He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is
better to give unasked, through understanding:
And to the open-handed the search for
one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught your would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given:
Therefore give now, that the season of
giving may be yours and not your inheritors`.

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.
They give that they may live,
for to with-hold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his
days and nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from
the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be,
than that, which lies in the courage and the
confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend
their bosom and unveil their pride,
that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be
a giver,and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life-
while you, who deem yourself a giver are but a witness.

And you receivers- and you are all
receivers- assume no weight of gratitude,
lest you lay a yoke upon
yourself and upon he who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings:
For to be overmindful of your debt,is
to doubt his generosity who has the
free-hearted earth for mother,and God for father

An excerpt from “The Prophet”

Crime and Punishment

Then one of the judges of the city stood forth and said,
“Speak to us of Crime and Punishment.”
And he answered saying:

It is when your spirit goes wandering upon the wind,
That you, alone and unguarded, commit a wrong unto others
and therefore unto yourself.
And for that wrong committed must you
knock and wait a while unheeded at the gate of the blessed.

Like the ocean is your god-self; It remains for ever undefiled.
And like the ether it lifts but the winged.
Even like the sun is your god-self;
It knows not the ways of the mole nor seeks it the holes of the serpent.
But your god-self does not dwell alone in your being.

Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man,
But a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep
in the mist searching for its own awakening.
And of the man in you would I now speak.
For it is he and not your god-self nor the pigmy in the mist,
that knows crime and the punishment of crime.

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.
And as a single leaf turns not yellow but
with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong
without the hidden will of you all.

Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self.
You are the way and the wayfarers.
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.
The righteous is not innocent of the deeds of the wicked,
And the white-handed is not clean in the doings of the felon.
Yea, the guilty is oftentimes the victim of the injured,
And still more often the condemned is the burden-bearer
for the guiltless and unblamed.

You cannot separate the just from the unjust
and the good from the wicked;
For they stand together before the face of the sun
even as the black thread and the white are woven together.
And when the black thread breaks,
the weaver shall look into the whole cloth,
and he shall examine the loom also.

If any of you would bring judgment the unfaithful wife,
Let him also weight the heart of her husband in scales,
and measure his soul with measurements.
And let him who would lash the offender
look unto the spirit of the offended.
And if any of you would punish in the name of righteousness
and lay the ax unto the evil tree,
let him see to its roots;
And verily he will find the roots of the good and the bad,
the fruitful and the fruitless,
all entwined together in the silent heart of the earth.

And you judges who would be just,
What judgment pronounce you upon him who
though honest in the flesh yet is a thief in spirit?
What penalty lay you upon him who
slays in the flesh yet is himself slain in the spirit?
And how prosecute you him who in action is a deceiver and an oppressor,
Yet who also is aggrieved and outraged?
And how shall you punish those whose
remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?
Is not remorse the justice which is administered
by that very law which you would fain serve?
Yet you cannot lay remorse upon the innocent nor
lift it from the heart of the guilty.
Unbidden shall it call in the night,
that men may wake and gaze upon themselves.

And you who would understand justice, how shall you
unless you look upon all deeds in the fullness of light?
Only then shall you know that the erect and the fallen are but one man
standing in twilight between the night
of his pigmy-self and the day of his god-self,
And that the corner-stone of the temple is not higher
than the lowest stone in its foundation.

An excerpt from “The Prophet” 

Love

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.
And he raised his head and looked upon the people,
and there fell a stillness upon them.
And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
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,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest
branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them
in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant:
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire,
that you may become sacred bread for God`s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your heart,
and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life`s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only
loves peace and loves 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.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself,
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed:
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say,
“God is in my heart,” but rather,
“I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course
of love, for love, if it finds you worthy,
directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving:
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love`s ecstasy:
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in you heart
and a song of praise upon you lips.

An excerpt from “The Prophet”

Work

Then a ploughman said, Speak to us of Work.
And he answered, saying:

You work that you may keep pace with
the earth and the soul of the earth.
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.

When you work you are a flute through
whose heart the whispering of the hours
turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent,
When all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is
a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil
a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you
when the dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you
are in truth loving life,
And to love life’s labour is to be intimate
with life’s innermost secret.

But if in your pain you would call birth an affliction
and the support of the flesh a curse
written upon your brow,
than I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow
shall wash away that which is written,

You have been told that life is darkness,
and in your weariness you echo what
was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed a darkness
save when there is urge.
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind
yourself to yourself, and to one another,
and to God.

And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn
from your own 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.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep,
“He who works in marble, and finds the shape
of his own soul in the stone,
is nobler that he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a
cloth in the likeness of man, is more
than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the over- wakefulness of noontide,
that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks
than to the least of all the blades of grass.
And he alone is great who turns the voice
of the wind into a song made sweeter by
his own loving.

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
And if you grudge the crushing of the
grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine
And if you sing though as angels,and
love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears
to the voices of the day and the voices of
the night.

An excerpt from “The Prophet”


Khalil Gibran

Gibran Khalil Gibran (جبران خليل جبران‎, Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān, or Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān, January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931), usually referred to in English as Kahlil Gibran, was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, also considered a philosopher although he himself rejected this title in his lifetime. He is best known as the author of The Prophet, which was first published in the United States in 1923 and is one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into more than 100 languages.

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