Twenty-six Lessons on Living
If I were to be marooned on an island and could choose only one book as my companion, I would opt for The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It’s only 132 pages, and yet, each time I read it, I marvel at the profound wisdom in each line.
The Prophet is the story of Almustafah. He had been living for twelve years in the city of Orphalese. Now his ship has arrived and he is returning to the isle of his birth. The people of Orphalese first try to persuade him to stay and then entreat him to “disclose us to ourselves, and tell us all that has been shown you of that which is between birth and death”.
In the next 26 chapters, he answers their questions about Love, Marriage , Children , Giving, Eating and Drinking, Work, Joy and Sorrow , Houses, Clothes, Buying and Selling , Crime and Punishment , Laws , Freedom, Reason and Passion , Pain, Self-Knowledge, Teaching, Friendship, Talking, Time, Good and Evil, Prayer, Pleasure, Beauty, Religion, and Death.
Each of his sermons is deceptively simple yet profoundly insightful.
For example, when asked about marriage, he advises, “Love one another but make not a bond of love.”
About work, his words contain this stern rebuke, “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.”
“It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.” He advises a rich man, who asks about giving.
About religion, he says. “Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?”
Finally, before leaving, he says enigmatically, “Forget not that I shall come back to you. A little while, and my longing shall gather dust and foam for another body.A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.”
Published in 1923, the Prophet’s wise words are timeless and equally relevant today. It is a store-house of invaluable treasures; an unfailing fount of fresh inspiration and new insights. I feel every writer should have it close at hand.
The Prophet is Kahlil Gibran’s best-loved work and has been translated into more than 20 languages. Since its publication more than 80 years, The Prophet has never been out of print in the United States and elsewhere.
Don’t take my word for it; you can download it here:
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran