Timeless Thoughts About Life | Inspirational Podcasts

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.

Podcast Transcript: Work is the essence of life. You work to keep pace with the Earth and the soul of the Earth. To be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons—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. Who of you would choose be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

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

Work is love made visible. If you cannot work with love but only distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and be a beggar on the street, accepting charity from those who work with joy.

What is joy? Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And it arises from the selfsame well that houses your laughter and tears. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. When you are joyous, look deep into your heart, and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some people say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “No, sorrow is the greater.” But I say to you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at the edge of the bed, remember that the other is asleep under the sheets.

Everyone recognizes that the soul is sometimes a battlefield, one where reason and judgment wage war against passions and appetites.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, so that it may sing. And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and (like the phoenix) rise above its own ashes.

However, remember this. Pleasure is a freedom-song. But it is not freedom. It is the blossoming of your desires. But it is not their fruit. It is a depth calling unto a height. But it is not the deep nor the high. It is the caged bird taking flight. But it is not the space encompassed.

Yes, pleasure is a freedom-song. And gladly would I have you sing it with fullness of heart; but I warn you not to lose your hearts in the singing.

Beauty is not a need but an ecstasy. It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth. But rather a heart inflamed 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 a Maple tree, nor a wing attached to a claw. But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels forever in flight.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Just as the seed must break, so that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. If you could but keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy. You would accept the seasons of your heart, just as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over the fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

We talk too much when we cease to be at peace with our thoughts. When we can no longer dwell in the solitude of our heart, we live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of our talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space living in a cage of words. Though it may unfold its wings but cannot fly.

There are those among us who seek the talkative due to the fear of being alone. The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they seek to escape. And there are those who talk, and (without knowledge or forethought) reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand. And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words. In their bosom the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence.

To all I say, when knowledge arrives,

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found A truth.”

Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met 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.

No teacher, mentor, or prophet can reveal to you anything but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge. The wise and accomplished teacher does not bid you enter the house of their wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of their understanding of space, but they cannot GIVE you their understanding. The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but they cannot GIVE you the ear which arrests the rhythm, nor the voice that echoes it. And those who are versed in the science of numbers can tell you of the regions of weight and measure, but they cannot do the calculations for you. For the vision of one, lends not its wings to another.

The greatest knowledge is the knowledge of your being. You are good when you are one with yourself. Yet when you are not one with yourself, you are not evil. For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house. Likewise, a ship without a rudder is still a ship. It may wander aimlessly among perilous waters, yet sink not to the bottom.

You are good when you strive to give of yourself. Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself. For when you strive for gain, you are but like a root that soaks up the nutrients of the earth to bring ripeness to the fruit.

You are good when you are fully awake in your speech. Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose. Even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.

You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps. Yet you are not evil when you go limping along. Even those who limp go not backwards. But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.

You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good. You are only loitering and a sluggard. Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.

For those in search of the secret of death, “How shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind to the day cannot unveil the mystery of light. If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

IN the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow, your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. And on the gate it reads:

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. Only when you have reached the mountain top, shall you begin to climb. Only when the earth claims your limbs, shall you truly dance.

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