When I was first gifted Kahlil Gibran’s The Eye of the Prophet, I really didn’t know what to expect. Also, I’m (sorta) following through on my resolution to read more non-fiction…
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So, Gibran was born in 1883 Lebanon and originally wrote his books in Arabic. This volume, which appears to be a collection of his works, was actually made up of French translations. By “works,” I mean letters, poems, short essays–Gibran is often called a poetry, philosopher, and an artist.
Normally, I’m not a fan of these types of books. I had to read too many in school and I just never really cared for this style. But there’s something about the way Gibran writes out his thoughts and perspectives that’s simply captivating. Perhaps it’s because all the sections are pretty short; I think the longest one is about four or five pages and the shortest is a sentence. But I think I especially loved his writing because it’s so simple, yet elegant. This, in turn, allows him to be very quotable.
A few examples:
“The Mystery of Love” pp. 44-45: ‘Love is a divine knowledge which allows a man to see what the gods see”… and so each passer-by evoked love as the reflection of his hopes and frustrations; and the mystery still remained obscure.
“Courage” p. 61: Braving the miseries of life is more noble than shutting yourself up in silence. The moth that flutters around the fire until its own death is more admirable than the mole who lives in a dark hole.
“The Mind” p. 78: For the soul is our dwelling-place, our eyes are its windows, and our lips its messengers.
“Art” p. 95 Art is a step taken from the visible known to the secret unknown, from nature towards infinite.
“Music” pp. 96-97: Through the eyes of hearing I was able to see the heart of love. Music is the language of the spirit. Its melody is like a playful breeze which makes the strings vibrate with love.
“Poetry” pp. 100-101: Poetry is the sacred incarnation of a smile and a sigh which dries tears.
“Faith” p. 108: Is faith not the sense of the heart just as sight the sense of the eye? God has created several doors which open onto truth. He opens them to all those who knock on them with the hand of faith.
On the note of God, I was surprised by how seemingly accepting Gibran sounds through his writing. On one hand, there are a few sections where he specifically mentions/talks to Jesus Christ. But then in others, he speaks of worshiping in temples and mosques; in another, he makes the argument that God is not just a father, but a mother. “We can be united to God the Father through the mind, but the Mother-Goddess can only be reached through the heart, through love” (p. 113).
I thought it was really interesting how Gibran just seemed to explore different faiths and different aspects of faith, finding overlaps between them, but ultimately, I felt like Gibran’s focus was on values like “wisdom” and concepts like “eternity,” and since faith systems have such strong perspectives on such topics, they had to be included as well.
I’d be curious to know the original context of some of his other works, I have to say, I really enjoyed this book and how much it made me think. I feel that if you are interested in philosophy, this is definitely a book worth checking out. It isn’t overwhelming (unless you overthink his propositions) nor is it very long. I was so captivated by Gibran that I finished it in about a day.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Next time, I’ll be looking at Ayoade on Top by Richard Ayoade!