Kahlil Gibran's Little Book of Secrets

Kahlil Gibran's Little Book of Secrets

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781571748348
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/01/2019
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,253,965
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x (d)

About the Author


Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883 - April 10, 1931) was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer of the New York Pen League. He is chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction that includes a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose. The book sold well despite a cool critical reception, gaining popularity in the 1930s and again in the 1960s. Gibran is the third bes-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu.

Neil Douglas-Klotz, PhD, (Saadi Shakur Chishti) is a world-renowned scholar of religious studies, spirituality, and psychology. Living in Scotland, he directs the Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Learning and for many years was co-chair of the Mysticism Group of the American Academy of Religion. He is also the cofounder of the International Network of the Dances of Universal Peace.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Entering the Labyrinth of Life

The riddles of life both bedevil and amuse us. Without these puzzles, these games of hide and seek, would we find any interest in life, any reason to continue moving ahead towards life's purpose?

Like Ink and Paper

Some of us are like ink and some like paper.

If it were not for the blackness of some of us, some of us would be dumb.

And if it were not for the whiteness of some of us, some of us would be blind.

A Sheet of Snow-White Paper

Said a sheet of snow-white paper:

"Pure was I created, and pure will I remain forever. I would rather be burnt and turn to white ashes than suffer darkness to touch me or the unclean to come near me."

The ink bottle heard what the paper was saying, and it laughed in its dark heart. But it never dared to approach her. And the multi-colored pencils heard her also, and they too never came near her.

And the snow-white sheet of paper did remain pure and chaste forever.

Pure and chaste — and empty.

Angels and Devils

If you do not see the angels and devils in the beauty and malice of life, you will be far removed from knowledge, and your spirit will be empty of affection.

Inefficiency

Said a hunted fox followed by twenty horsemen and a pack of twenty hounds:

"Of course they will kill me. But how poor and how stupid they must be. Surely it would not be worthwhile for twenty foxes riding on twenty asses and accompanied by twenty wolves to chase and kill one man!"

Worms Turn

Worms will turn.

But is it not strange that even elephants will yield?

The Relative Value Of Speed

Said a skunk to a tuberose, "See how swiftly I run, while you cannot walk or even creep." Said the tuberose to the skunk, "Oh, most noble swift runner, please run swiftly!"

Turtles can tell more about roads than hares.

Space

Space is not space between the earth and the sun to one who looks down from the windows of the Milky Way.

How I Became a Madman

You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus:

One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen — the seven masks I had fashioned and worn in seven lives.

I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, "Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves!"

Men and women laughed at me, and some ran to their houses in fear of me.

And when I reached the marketplace, a youth standing on a housetop cried, "He is a madman!"

I looked up to behold him. For the first time, the sun kissed my own naked face, and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun. I wanted my masks no more. 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 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.

Veils

The mountain veiled in mist is not a hill.

An oak tree in the rain is not a weeping willow.

Masks of Life

Even the masks of life are masks of deeper mystery.

Faces

I have seen a face with a thousand countenances, and a face that was but a single countenance, as if held in a mold.

I have seen a face whose sheen I could look through to the ugliness beneath and a face whose sheen I had to lift to see how beautiful it was.

I have seen an old face much lined with nothing and a smooth face in which all things were graven.

I know faces, because I look through the fabric that my own eye weaves and behold the reality beneath.

Ugliness

Is it not that which you have never striven to reach, into whose heart you have never desired to enter, that you deem ugliness?

If ugliness is anything, indeed it is but the scales upon our eyes and the wax filling our ears.

Call nothing ugly, my friend, save the fear of a soul in the presence of its own memories.

The Scarecrow

Once I said to a scarecrow, "You must be tired of standing in this lonely field."

And he said, "The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, and I never tire of it."

Said I, after a minute of thought, "It is true, for I too have known that joy."

Said he, "Only those who are stuffed with straw can know it."

Then I left him, not knowing whether he had complimented or belittled me.

A year passed, during which time the scarecrow turned philosopher. And when I passed by him again I saw two crows building a nest under his hat.

Spring and Winter

The flowers of spring are winter's dreams related at the breakfast table of the angels.

A Meeting Time

We measure time according to the movement of countless suns.

They measure time by little machines in their little pockets.

Now tell me, how could we ever meet at the same place and the same time?

Remembrance and Forgetfulness

Remembrance is a form of meeting.

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.

The Wise King

Once in the distant city of Wirani a king ruled 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. She said, "From this hour whoever drinks this water shall become mad."

The 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 marketplaces did nothing 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.

White Doves

Seven centuries ago, seven white doves rose from a deep valley, flying to the snow-white summit of the mountain.

One of the seven men who watched the flight said, "I see a black spot on the wing of the seventh dove."

Today the people in that valley tell of seven black doves who flew to the summit of the snowy mountain.

History

Upon the road of Zaad, a traveler met a man who lived in a nearby village.

And the traveler, pointing to a vast field, asked the man, "Was not this the battleground where King Ahlam overcame his enemies?"

And the man answered, "This has never been a battleground. There once stood on this field the great city of Zaad, and it was burnt down to ashes. But now it is a good field, is it not?"

And the traveler and the man parted.

Not a half mile farther, the traveler met another man and pointing to the field again said, "So that is where the great city of Zaad once stood?"

And the man said, "There has never been a city in this place. But once there was a monastery here, and it was destroyed by the people of the South Country."

Shortly after on that very road of Zaad, the traveler met a third man and, pointing once more to the same vast field, he said, "Is it not true that this is the place where once there stood a great monastery?"

But the man answered, "There has never been a monastery in this neighborhood, but our fathers and our forefathers have told us that once there fell a great meteor on this field."

Then the traveler walked on, wondering in his heart. And he met a very old man, and saluting him he said, "Sir, upon this road I have met three men who live in the neighborhood, and I have asked each of them about this field, and each one denied what the other had said, and each one told me a new tale that the other had not told."

Then the old man raised his head and answered, "My friend, each and every one of these men told you what was indeed so.

"But few of us are able to add one fact to a different fact and make a truth out of them."

Full and Empty

Had I filled myself with all that you know, what room should I have for all that you do not know?

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind.

Yet it's strange:

I am ungrateful to these teachers.

Empty Cup

When my cup is empty, I resign myself to its emptiness. But when it is half full, I resent its half-fulness.

A Hand Filled with Mist

Once I filled my hand with mist. Then I opened it and lo, the mist was a worm.

And I closed and opened my hand again, and behold, there was a bird.

And again I closed and opened my hand, and in its hollow stood a man with a sad face turned upward.

And again I closed my hand, and when I opened it there was naught but mist.

But I heard a song of exceeding sweetness.

City of the Heart's Desire

Once there came from the desert to the great city of Sharia a man who was a dreamer, and he had naught but his garment and staff.

And as he walked through the streets, he gazed with awe and wonder at the temples and towers and palaces, for the city of Sharia was of surpassing beauty. And he spoke often to the passersby, questioning them about their city. But they understood not his language, nor he their language.

At the noon hour, he stopped before a vast inn. It was built of yellow marble, and people were going in and coming out unhindered.

"This must be a shrine," he said to himself, and he too went in. But what was his surprise to find himself in a hall of great splendor and a large company of men and women seated about many tables. They were eating and drinking and listening to the musicians.

"Nay," said the dreamer. "This is no worshipping. It must be a feast given by the prince to the people in celebration of a great event."

At that moment a man, whom he took to be the slave of the prince, approached him and bade him be seated. And he was served with meat and wine and most excellent sweets.

When he was satisfied, the dreamer rose to depart. At the door he was stopped by a large man magnificently arrayed.

"Surely this is the prince himself!" said the dreamer in his heart, and he bowed to him and thanked him.

Then the large man said in the language of the city:

"Sir, you have not paid for your dinner." And the dreamer did not understand and again thanked him heartily. Then the large man bethought him, and he looked more closely upon the dreamer. And he saw that he was a stranger, clad in but a poor garment, and that indeed he had not wherewith to pay for his meal.

Then the large man clapped his hands and called, and there came four watchmen of the city. And they listened to the large man. Then they took the dreamer between them, and they were two on each side of him.

And the dreamer noted the ceremoniousness of their dress and of their manner and he looked upon them with delight. "These," said he, "are men of distinction!"

And they walked all together until they came to the House of Judgment, and they entered.

The dreamer saw before him, seated upon a throne, a venerable man with flowing beard, robed majestically. And he thought he was the king. And he rejoiced to be brought before him.

Now the watchmen related to the judge, who was the venerable man, the charge against the dreamer, and the judge appointed two advocates, one to present the charge and the other to defend the stranger. And the advocates rose, the one after the other, and delivered each his argument. And the dreamer thought himself to be listening to addresses of welcome, and his heart filled with gratitude to the king and the prince for all that was done for him.

Then sentence was passed upon the dreamer, that upon a tablet about his neck his crime should be written, and that he should ride through the city on a naked horse, with a trumpeter and a drummer before him. And the sentence was carried out forthwith.

Now as the dreamer rode through the city upon the naked horse, with the trumpeter and the drummer before him, the inhabitants of the city came running forth at the sound of the noise, and when they saw him they laughed one and all, and the children ran after him in companies, from street to street.

And the dreamer's heart was filled with ecstasy, and his eyes shone upon them. For to him the tablet was a sign of the king's blessing and the procession was in his honor.

Now as he rode, he saw among the crowd a man who was from the desert like himself, and his heart swelled with joy. And he cried out to him with a shout:

"Friend! Friend! Where are we? What city of the heart's desire is this? What race of lavish hosts, who feast the chance guest in their palaces, whose princes companion him, whose king hangs a token upon his breast and opens to him the hospitality of a city descended from heaven!"

And he who was also of the desert replied not. He only smiled and slightly shook his head. And the procession passed on.

And the dreamer's face was uplifted, and his eyes were overflowing with light.

The Blessed City

In my youth I was told that in a certain city everyone lived according to the Scriptures.

And I said, "I will seek that city and the blessedness thereof." And it was far. I made great provision for my journey. And after forty days I beheld the city, and on the forty-first day I entered into it.

And lo! The whole company of the inhabitants had each but a single eye and but one hand. And I was astonished and said to myself, "Shall they of this so holy city have but one eye and one hand?"

Then I saw that they too were astonished, for they were marvelling greatly at my two hands and my two eyes. And as they were speaking together, I inquired of them saying, "Is this indeed the Blessed City, where each man lives according to the Scriptures?" And they said, "Yes, this is that city."

"And what," said I, "hath befallen you, and where are your right eyes and your right hands?"

And all the people were moved. And they said, "Come thou and see."

And they took me to the temple in the midst of the city. And in the temple I saw a heap of hands and eyes, all withered. Then said I, "Alas! what conqueror hath committed this cruelty upon you?"

And there went a murmur amongst them. And one of their elders stood forth and said, "This doing is of ourselves. God hath made us conquerors over the evil that was in us."

And he led me to a high altar, and all the people followed. And he showed me above the altar an inscription graven, and I read:

"If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off and cast it from thee. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

Then I understood. And I turned about to all the people and cried, "Hath no man or woman among you two eyes or two hands?"

And they answered me saying, "No, not one. There is none whole save such as are yet too young to read the Scripture and to understand its commandment."

And when we had come out of the temple, I straightway left that Blessed City. For I was not too young, and I could read the Scripture.

A Rock and a Riddle

And on the first day of the week when the sounds of the temple bells sought their ears, one spoke and said, "Master, we hear much talk of God hereabout. What say you of God, and who is God in very truth?"

And he stood before them like a young tree, fearless of wind or tempest, and he answered saying:

Think now, my comrades and beloved, of a heart that contains all your hearts, a love that encompasses all your loves, a spirit that envelops all your spirits, a voice enfolding all your voices, and a silence deeper than all your silences, and timeless.

Seek now to perceive in your self-fulness a beauty more enchanting than all things beautiful, a song more vast than the songs of the sea and the forest, a majesty seated upon the throne for which Orion is but a footstool, holding a sceptre in which the Pleiades are naught save the glimmer of dewdrops.

You have sought always only food and shelter, a garment and a staff. Seek now one who is neither an aim for your arrows nor a stony cave to shield you from the elements.

And if my words are a rock and a riddle, then seek nonetheless, that your hearts may be broken and that your questionings may bring you unto the love and the wisdom of the Most High, whom people call God.

CHAPTER 2

Secrets of Life and Death

Life and death may be the ultimate questions of existence, yet they seem to be the ones that we spend most of our lives avoiding. Can the awareness that these bodies don't last forever cause us to put the present moment to better use?

Death Is Not Nearer

Death is not nearer to the aged than to the newborn. Neither is life.

Funerals

Maybe a funeral among human beings is a wedding feast among the angels.

A forgotten reality may die and leave in its will seven thousand actualities and facts to be spent on its funeral and the building of a tomb.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Kahlil Gibran's Little Book of Secrets"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Neil Douglas-Klotz.
Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction,
1. Entering the Labyrinth of Life,
2. Secrets of Life and Death,
3. Life's Ups and Downs,
4. Secrets of Good and Evil,
5. Traveling the Inner Path,
Sources of the Selections,

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