Friday, August 24, 2012

Wisdom of "The Prophet" (Part 2)

The "Prophet" himself, Kahlil Gibran
Alas, the dramatic conclusion to our 2 part series on the writings of Kahlil Gibran and "The Prophet".  We last left off with our discussion on what "work" truly means to each of us.  With that knowledge, or definition, we will have a better idea of what we want to do with our lives.  Digging back into "The Prophet", we start with this quote:

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

This whole passage can be boiled down to the idea of doing your job to the best of your abilities.  I'm reminded of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that went like this:

"Whatever your life's work is, do it well.  A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better."

Both famous thinkers have contemplated the philosophy of labor and believe that if you are to do a job, do it right and to the best of your abilities.  This comes from the concept of honor in the workplace (something we are much in need of in today's world).  If you shovel coal or produce reports, take pride in your work for you have a job and are operating in tune with nature.  Back to "The Prophet",

"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 than 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."

Gibran wants us to understand that no job is better than another for all of us are working towards the harmony of the greater good.  And finally, we conclude with:

"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."

Another very important pearl of wisdom - Loving your job will make the fruits of you labor all the more sweet.  So children, take these points of wisdom with you and as "The Prophet" would quip go forth and multiply...also TGIF!

Let me know what your interpretation is of the above.  I love a good discussion.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Starting to plan for Thanksgiving dinner at my house...let's just say that this is a big deal.


  1. Hi,

    You wrote this one quite well.

    I will comment on the "(something we are much in need of in today's world)". I've read old books and seen the same comment. By old, I mean hundreds of years. People and society remain in a rather consistent flow. That is one of the reason's Gibran's words speak so well to us today - we are nearly the same creatures he walked among back then.

    With regard to the perspective, however, consider that people find what they are seeking. A person who begrudges paying for good quality will buy poor quality - someone has to make that poor quality. A craftsman will not do it, so a novice must.

    I think both the Economist and the Taoist would say that there are a perfect amount of hard workers in today's world. If there were not, things would be out of balance. If things were out of balance, the Economist would say that prices would adjust based on supply and demand until something became unaffordable - which is impossible. And 'impossible' is what a Toaist would say about things being out of balance.

    Have you read "The Richest Man in Babylon"? I'd love to hear your perspective on that.

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement. A deeper analysis of Taoist and Economist ideals maybe an interesting topic for another post.

      I still am conflicted whether to take this blog in the more philosophical or practical routes to self improvement and personal finance. This week was a fun experiment in the ideals of old.

      Along the practical lines, I did write a brief article on the laws of gold from the "Richest Man in Babylon", however there is so much more to this read.