Dear Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”

13.Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet" - DODH.jpg

The Prophet

I feel foolish singing your praise, because there’s nothing I could say that would be right. You render me speechless… In the words of your creator Gibran, I have “seen the Unseen, and been filled.”

All the words that I fail to articulate, could have been read from my face from the moment I first read your words… and that’s truly the mark of greatness.

You’ve already taken me someplace new and stirred something deep within me, and I haven’t even finished hearing what you have to say! I don’t want this book to end but I can’t keep myself from reading it. I fear that in one sitting I will finish you; but as tempted as I am to devour you whole, I want to savour your every word.

You’ve been inscribed from the fountain of genius.
Your words… Your vision… Your total understanding of the world… It’s unlike anything I’ve come across. I feel as if I’ve been consuming artificial things until now, only to be finally exposed to the real thing. Everything I’ve read has been diluted knowledge. This is pure.

You talk of topics that have been circulating through my mind as of late. You explain the truth and to my surprise, it’s not bitter. I feel like my newfound knowledge is actually ancient truths; what I thought would be new territory is actually ruins of old age – wisdom from over a century ago! And so I feel as though my second-hand thoughts have once again been overridden by newer, older thoughts, and I’ll take them gladly. I’m at the base; there’s a whole new lease of understanding being fed through my mind.

Of all the millions of books around – old and new – it’s you that I’ve found my way to. And for someone who doesn’t read much, I’ve been lucky enough to have discovered words that belong to the same tribe as I…

Your words speak the same language as mine do… except I never knew this book existed when I embarked on my journey into writing. In fact, growing up my writing preceded my reading, so books haven’t served as an inspiration at all. That’s why my level of esteem is even MORE elevated when I unearth a book that unearths something deep within me.

There’s a part of me that believes that the heart of a writer hears whispers that our ears do not pick up, and when we lift the pen to write, we become but a vessel for these whispers echoing from within; like a divine intervention of the literary sort. Perhaps that’s why your words look so familiar even though I’ve never seen them before; perhaps we’ve heard the same call. For you’ve spoken the way I speak, and written the way I write… except in this cycle of life, I’m a soul of a new bud sprouting through, with a long, long way to go, whilst you’re already an ancient wise oak tree. I’m a part of your seed; I’m a leaf that’s found its tree.

It’s really strange… I’m bursting with what can only be described as awe and I can’t contain it. I’m uncontrollably excited, and I’m inspired, and I feel like I hold the biggest kept secret which I need to talk about! I only wish that I could find the right words to describe and capture this feeling right now, because I know this sensation will come to dim itself as an inevitable consequence of time… But I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to stop being shaken by you. I want to continuously be washed over with this feeling, something I’ve seldom experienced.

What I’m feeling now, there’s not a word for it yet. If there is, I’m sure it lays undiscovered through the words on your pages alone; words I’m going to make myself so familiar with over the course of my years that it will be as though I’ve wrapped myself around them. That would truly be the greatest honour.

“I have seen the Unseen, and been filled…”

* * *

It’s not often that a book grips me and totally blows me away – this would only be the third time I believe.
The first time this happened was regarding Paulo Coelho’s “Manuscript Found In Accra” (which I read in 2013) – Reflecting back now, it’s ironic because I can see that Coelho has tried to replicate the spirit of “The Prophet” (published in the 1920’s.) Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I feel like I’ve been drinking from an artificial, second-hand stream until now?
The second time I encountered such wonderment was with Alain de Botton’s “On Love”. This book landed on my bookshelf; I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but this book certainly showed me the why – of all the juices flowing through my brain, this was the missing ingredient. And now, my third splendour is Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” – except, this is on a whole different league.
“On Love” enchanted me with its fresh perspective and lyrical writing… “Manuscript” by its concept and wisdom. This book however – “The Prophet” – is something else. It’s evidently the inspiration behind “Manuscript”; the original blueprint where Paulo Coelho drafted his words from. It carries wisdom unparalleled to anything else, and it’s the most lyrical, beautiful composition of words I’ve had the privilege of reading. With that, it trumps both books by a million.

“My Journey to ‘The Prophet’”

This book is already a well-known classic and it seems that I’ve arrived to the party very late. But how I found this book is a tale in itself; this book called to me…

For such a worldwide famous writer/poet, I hadn’t heard of Kahlil Gibran at all. Despite the author being such a celebrated one, this book beckoned me at a time when he was no more than a strange name on a strange book. Little did I know how strangeness would soon turn into wonder.

One afternoon I took a stroll through a bookstore and saw a single, unassuming, little green book hiding between a stack of others – it bore such a minimalistic cover design; nothing fancy whatsoever. In a world where books of this sort don’t grip me, I was strongly drawn to it. Usually, I tend to read through books before deliberating whether or not I can cheat my book queue and purchase it right then and there. But this time was different. Instead of doing the usual – taking a photo and adding it to my “perhaps I’ll look into it someday” pile – after a quick flick, I decided to be spontaneous and just buy it. No questions asked.

Several years I stored this on my shelf – hidden and dormant – mindful that I should read it soon, but the time was never right.

Then December 2015, I decided to pick it up and start reading it, but something was lacking – I didn’t feel the urgency to read it and my mind kept wandering off to different places. The call that caused me to buy it, had muted itself for the reading.

I went as far as reading the first few pages, but nothing. Then my dad interrupted me and I discovered that he had once read this same book when he was my age, and that gave me and my dad a genuine common ground, probably for the first time. It was nice. That moment stuck with me, and I concluded that THIS was the reason why I heard the books calling, and that’s why I’d come to read it at a time my dad was present. With the contentment behind that rationale, the book slowly slipped back onto the shelf of the forgotten, having barely been touched, and it once again lay low.

Then, as I was heading out today, I decided to take a book with me. I’m in the middle of reading something I’m really enjoying and usually have that as my literary companion. However, in a moment of no reason, I decided to swap it out for this Gibran book.

I spent the whole journey rethinking this switch and regretting it, but I had no choice now. This book had offered itself to me. That was going to be the day I finally read it, and soon enough, I opened the book.

It was on the second line of the third paragraph; that’s when magic struck. That was all it took for this book to completely cast its spell on me. I haven’t been able to think of anything else since.

What was it about this book that kept itself in waiting until this very moment? Why has it chosen to reveal itself to me today…? Whatever the reason, I can feel it in my bones that I am supposed to read it now; that the words will resonate with the chemicals of my body in this very moment… that at any other time, it wouldn’t have gripped me the way it has.

I’ve always considered myself fortunate and it’s because of moments like this; for encountering things when I’m supposed to, at the right time, in the right place. But how could I not when I have countless examples like this to go by? And this time more than any, is telling… because again, I’ve picked it up before, read the same lines before, but back then it went over my head. It was such shallow reading that it completely bounced back. This time, it’s soaked through me.

This book is the real deal, and I’m so grateful to have serendipitously encountered it. One day I’m going to make a film about it. Just as this book called and spoke to me, I will one day breathe life into it by being the eyes of it through cinema.

It may have been done before, but it’s not been done by me. When I do, I’m not going to play around with the script – for how can anyone redraft such well scripted versus?! That would be an injustice. Instead, I’ll do a literal portrayal. The visions that crept up on me when I read it – the picture the author paints so vividly – that’s what I’ll be bringing into motion.

A literal portrayal. Li-talar-ly.

This book will change me, I suspect it already has.

Diary of a Deluded Heart

Written: July 16th 2016
Published: August 21st 2016

“How much you enjoy “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” depends on how transformative you consider Gibran’s philosophical musings about love, marriage, birth, children, work and death. If his words evoke an eye roll, forget it. But for audiences interested in an earnest, inspirational story, full of timeless messages and beautiful animation, this is a lovely reminder of how to live life with purpose and joy.”

Review: ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’ animates a literary classic by Sandie Angulo Chen (August 20, 2015)


10 thoughts on “Dear Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”

  1. “The Prophet”, an early book read as a young man transiting from youth to adulthood,
    left indelible marks on my character. Can not thank you enough for refreshing my memory
    to the importance of this most treasured work. Thank you very much.
    Thanks as well for your subscription. Eddie

    Liked by 1 person

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