Kahlil Gibran on Love & Marriage

Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of wearable inspiration for a better world. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, published in 1922…

When love beckons to you, follow it—though its ways are hard and steep. And when its wings enfold you, yield to it—though its hidden sword may wound you. And when love speaks to you, believe in it—though its voice may shatter your dreams, as the winter wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you, so shall it crucify you. Even as it is for your growth, so it is also for your pruning. Even as love ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that shimmer in the sun, so shall it descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn, love gathers you unto itself. It threshes you to make you naked. It sifts you to free you from your husks. It grinds you to whiteness and kneads you until you are pliant. And then love casts you into its sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for a 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 love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you to cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you still shall laugh, but not with all of your laughter, and still weep, but not with all of your tears.

Love gives nothing but itself and takes nothing 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 that 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 have desires, let your desires be these:

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. To return home at evening with gratitude; and then to sleep, with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

If love leads you to marriage, remember this: You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. You shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone—just as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping; for only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: for the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

If your marriage should lead to children, remember this also: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not FROM you, and though they are with you, 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 be 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 bends you with his might, so that the arrows may go swift and far.

As you pass through your life, remember that you give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of YOURSELF that you truly give.

There are some who give but little of the much which they have; they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. But there are also those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffers are never empty.

There are some of us who give with joy, and that joy is our reward. And there are some who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. But then there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue. They give naturally and abundantly, like the wildflowers that breathe their fragrance into the air. Through the hands of such as these Love speaks, and from behind their eyes, it smiles upon the earth.

Some people ask if there are not certain things we should withhold from giving. Remember, that all you have shall someday be given. Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors.

Lastly, there are others who say that they will give, but only to the deserving. The trees in the orchard say not so. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

Surely those who are worthy to receive their days and nights are worthy of all else from you. Surely those who deserve to drink from the ocean of life deserve to fill their cup from your little stream. For in truth, it is life that gives unto life—while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness. Therefore, open your heart, and be grateful….always.

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