Posts Tagged ‘God’

Love Wins

August 31, 2011
Love Wins - Rob Bell

Love Wins - Rob Bell

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. — Mother Teresa

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels … and though I have the gift of prophecy … and have all the faith so that I could remove mountains … and have not love, I am nothing. — Saint Paul

Pictures at an Exhibition.
A quote from Ghandi.
A note is pinned.
Ghandi is in hell.
Who says?
How do you know?
Are you sure?

If Ghandi is in hell, what hope is there for the rest of us?

If darkness is the absence of light, then evil is the lack of good.

Good cop v bad cop. God the bad cop, Jesus the good cop.

What is good, what is evil? Why are some thrown into hell, not others?

We sit in judgement on others. How do we decide what is right, what is wrong?

Why would a loving God wish to throw us into hell, see us suffer?

Those who wish to see us cast into hell, always seem to belong to the group who will be saved.

Jan Hus, a Czech religious reformer, was burnt at the stake in 1415 for heresy for offering the chalice of of communion to the laity as well as the clergy. Even today there are those who can and those who cannot accept Holy Communion.

In the Witch of Portobello, Athena is denied Holy Communion when it is learnt she is divorced. She curses the church. Jesus is portrayed outside looking in saying even He would not be welcome there.

During His life Jesus welcomed all. At the Last Supper, he offered the wine as His blood, the bread as His body.

The popular misconception of heaven is as an otherwordly place some place else where people wander around aimlessly looking lost. St Peter is a bouncer at the gate ensuring only those on a higly selective guest list gain access.

The one word to describe this heaven would be boredom. For many it would be hell.

In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus explicitly said where heaven was. It was not some place else. It was all around and within us. Seek and ye shall find.

Christians mumble some half undestood litergy. Sing His praises, but everyone else can go hang.

Do we do good to gain that much valued ticket into heaven, or should we do good because it is the right thing to do?

The Koran recognises and preaches tolerance of other religions. Those who believed in the one God and did good had a special place, theirs was the path to salvation.

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in the last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from the Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

What do I have to do to do good for eternal life, who is my neighbour? These were put to Jesus. He answered with the story of the Good Samaritan.

Dalai Lama:

I am convinced that human nature is basically affectionate and good. If our behavior follows our kind and loving nature, immense benefits will result, not only for ourselves, but also for the society to which we belong. I generally refer to this sort of love and affection as a universal religion. Everyone needs it, believers as much as non-believers. This attitude constitutes the very basis of morality.

To understand the life of Jesus and what he said, we have have to understand the first century context, the Roman-Greek-Jewish culture.

Many prophets spoke of heaven. It was not someplace else but the earth in another age, an age to come.

If our behaviour is bad now, greed, failure to care for the environment, why should it be any better in heaven? Why therefore should we be granted access to heaven?

It is what we do now, we bring heaven into our era.

Our role is as custodians of Gaia, partners with God.

The Greek word aion has two meaning. Another era or age but also a different state. Heaven was also used to mean God. There are some who even today, for example Canon Andrew White, who out of respect and awe, use G-d not God.

If our popular misconception of heaven is wrong, what of hell? Is it not a pit of burning flames and nashing of teeth into which we will be cast?

Would a loving God cast us into hell to to be tortured for all eternity for wrongs in a finite life? Worse still, because we do not believe that which fundamentalists say we must believe?

Do we not have free will? Are we not free to choose? If yes, then we have to be free to choose what we believe.

When Jesus spoke of hell he was talking of a valley outside Jerusalem where the rubbish was dumped. Fires burnt day and night to consume the rubbish, wild animals fought over the scraps of food.

Man is more than capable of creating his own man-made hell.

The trenches of World War One.
The Soviet Gulags.
Nazi death camps.
Pol Pot killing fields in Cambodia.

Hell is when we love someone, we think they love us, then they go out of their way to destroy us.

The eyes are a window into the soul. Look into the eyes of a heroin addict to get a glimpse of hell.

A paradox: Those who work hard to eliminate hell on earth seem less concerned about a mythical hell in a mythical afterlife. Those who worry about hell in the afterlife turn a blind eye to the hell here on earth.

Fundamentalists use hell to generate fear, a crude control mechanism. If anyone is to be cast in hell, they must surely be first in line.

Jews asks questions, Christians seek answers. Jesus answered questions with a question. That is the style of Rob Bell.

There are those who do not go into church for fear a thunderbolt will strike. There are those who think themselves superior to those weaklings who need a crutch. There are those who just feel uncomfortable.

Rob Bell sheds a much needed spotlight on the perversion of scripture, the damage to people’s lives by Christian fundamentalists.

Controversial? No.

Unpopular with Christian fundamentalists? Yes.

Whilst reading Love Wins, passages from The Shack kept coming to mind. Love Wins is the ideal companion to The Shack, but read The Shack first.

Aleph is a good follow on to Love Wins.

Francis Chan has written ‎Erasing Hell as a counter to Love Wins. It begs the question why?

Christians are hypocrites. They are quick to tell Muslims to put their house in order, to deal with Muslim extremists, then turn a blind eye to their own extremists and the damage they do.

Christian funadamentalits are not envoys for Christianity, on the contrary they cause a lot of harm and give Christianity a bad name.

Meddling by Christian fundamentalists in Iraq has led directly to the slaughter of Christians.

Love Wins is a breath of fresh air, Rob Bell shines a light onto the activities of Christian fundamentalists, their perversion of Scripture, the spreading of poison, the destruction of lives.

Some of the most unpleasant people I have met have been Christian fundamentalists, rude, intolerant, ignorant, lacking in grace.

What is it with evangelical Christians?
Why are evangalists such a pain in the arse?
A lack of grace

I was in the courtyard of New Mosque in the old city of Istanbul. I had an interesting discussion with three young Muslim women on whether or not the Koran demands the wearing of a headscarf. The discussion was held without rancour, in good humour. I cannot imagine a similar discussion with Christian fundamentalists.

Jesus was offered an easy route when he encountered the Devil in the desert. He declined. His disciples asked that he used his powers to gain believers. He said no.

Dostoevsky tells a story, retold by Philip Yancey and Paulo Coelho, of Jesus visiting Spain during the Inquisition. Jesus is recognised and thrown into prison. He is told he will have to be executed as he cannot be allowed to undo the good work of the Church, that he should have accepted the offer from the Devil. [see The Grand Inquisitor

Paulo Coelho in Aleph has a chilling account of the Inquisition. People were tortured to confess their sins, thrown on a fire so that flames could cleanse their unclean souls.

You cannot force people to believe. They will not believe in their souls.

Rob Bell welcomes debate and discussion. A Christian bookshop invited discussion, then censored the discussion.

Muslim fundamentalists are not brainwashed by evil clerics, they are self brainwashed. They read a book or watch a video from a Muslim bookshop, or hear something in the mosque. This changes their worldview. This worldview then filters what they see, reinforces itself. before we know it, they are on their way to a training camp in Pakistan.

It follows, Christian bookshops need to be very careful what they are promoting, that they are not on a slippery slope to hell.

We saw in Norway what happens when Christian fundamentalists have access to weapons. Slaughter of the innocents follows.

Intolerance is not a pleasant characteristic, on the other hand there are things we should not tolerate. The sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the cover-up by the Church. The rape and pillage of the planet. The lack of clean water. Torture.

Synchronicity: I had almost finished reading Love Wins when I read The Redeemer. Much of Love Wins can be found in The Redeemer.

The Shack
Aleph

God’s last word

August 8, 2011

Do you think think all of God can be put into a few pages in one book? Do you think that when that book was finished, He had no more inspiration for His children? Do you think you have come to the end of His power when you have turned the last page of your Bible? — Silver Birch

King James Bible

Rabindranath Tagore: Unity in Diversity

August 1, 2011

We are one with God. God is one with the Cosmos. We are part of Nature not apart from Nature. In Nature we see the divine. We are all interconnected.

We live in a world of mass individualism, or to be more correct, mass-produced individualism. Everyone wears the same clothes, listens to the same music, has the same thoughts, all following the diktat of Big Business.

It was a pleasure hearing my friend Vandana Shiva from the Tagore Dartington Festival discussing Rabindranath Tagore on BBC Radio 4 Something Understood. But why oh why is BBC only keeping this excellent programme on-line for only seven days?

Rabindranath Tagore: Unity in Diversity
Celebration of Tagore at 150

The Shack

May 28, 2011
The Shack

The Shack

People rave about this book, which immediately put me off reading it.

Mack finds God in a deserted shack in the middle of a wilderness. What God is doing there and what Mack learns is for us to find out.

Stranger things have happened. Disgraced politician Jonathan Aitken (in prison for perjury) claims to have found God in prison. At a party I was at in London, either Mark Thomas or Jeremy Hardy quipped what was God in for?

Missy, youngest daughter of Mack, goes missing on a camping trip. Her bloodstained dress is found in a dilapidated remote mountain shack. Her body is not found and she is assumed brutally murdered by a child serial killer. Four years later, Mack receives a note, allegedly from God, inviting him back to the shack for a weekend chat.

The last time God was on record sending messages is the communication of the Quran to the Prophet Muhmmad. Is this a cruel hoax? The only way for Mack to find out is to return to the shack.

The Shack by William P Young is an amazing and humbling deep metaphysical discussion on the nature of God. It will shatter most people’s stereotype image of God.

We know Jesus was a carpenter. Why are we therefore surprised to find him portrayed as of Middle Eastern appearance, looking like an Arab?

I find three copies of The Shack within three days, well a week at any rate. Each copy differed in a slight detail on its front cover, namely one, two, three million copies sold. A couple of weeks later I find another copy. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something!

Most recent copy I have seen displayed as best selling item in a Christian bookshop had seven million copies sold on the front cover!

With no publisher interested, with a little help from his friends, Willie created a publishing company with the sole purpose of publishing The Shack. Life is about following our dreams, taking risks. [see The Alchemist]

William P Young worked on odd jobs during the day to earn a living, at night he wrote The Shack. Not a single publisher was interested, “too much Jesus”, therefore with the help of friends and family he established a publishing company to publish The Shack. They thought they were being ambitious when they printed 11,000 copies to sell on the internet, but they sold out within four months, fuelled entirely by word-of-mouth. In the UK it was published by Hodder and Stoughton, where pre-sales reached 25,000 even before it hit the shops!

Word of mouth can be very powerful, especially with social media. I was recommended The Shack. I do not hesitate to recommend it to others.

Top story in The Religion Daily (Sunday 29 May 2011)!

Finding God In The Shack
Does it matter how we pray?
What’s So Amazing About Grace?
The Jesus I Never Knew
Suffering
The writer and God
God is
A six-year-old girl writes a letter to God
The Alchemist
By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
– Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Does it matter how we pray?

May 25, 2011

Do we kneel, our head bowed, our hands together, our eyes closed? Or do we stand, wave our arms about and shout in an egotistical display for all the world to see? Or do we as in the Russian Orthodox, stand in silent prayer? Or do we as a devout Muslim, five times a day, lay prostrate on the ground facing Mecca?

To pray is to communicate with an Infinite Being. To communicate implies a two-way dialogue.

Too often we make demands, when these are not met, we go off in a huff, get in a strop.

We would do well to heed the advice of St Benedict: Listen, listen to your Master. The Master in this case was the Abbot.

We need to learn to listen, to be patient.

At Alton Abbey, visitors will go away with three or more books on how to pray. They would be best served in devoting their time in prayer, not reading the books.

The Jesus Prayer can be used as as mantra, an aid to meditation, but there is a danger if we do this without a spiritual guide.

There are too many churches where one is greeted on arrival as though a long lost friend, but it is a false sense of friendship, there is no depth, no sense of community.

Alton Abbey has a congregation of about ninety people. They do not all turn up at once which is fortunate as the church is only small. They turn up because they are made welcome, they find they are members of a community.

The follow up discussion descended into a discussion on the format of church services.

At a St Joseph’s Day Party in Istanbul, Paulo Coelho invited everyone to join him in prayer. It was not an obligation, but if you did participate he asked that it came from your soul. He asked everyone to join hands. It was a very moving experience.

I spent three weeks in the spring, of which nearly every day I visited an old Spanish colonial church. At the same time I would sit in the plaza reading By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. I tried a technique described in the book. To sit very quietly and open ones mind. I was amazed at what happened. I discussed this with Father Dom Giles Hill. He said yes, now try it with a group of people.

A special thanks to Dom Giles Hill, former Abbot of Alton, for the talk he gave at St Nicolas, Guildford, 8pm Wednesday 25 May 2011.

St Nicolas Church by the River Wey, is one of the oldest churches in Guildford

Alton Abbey is an Anglican Benedictine Monastery in the beautiful Hampshire village of Beech, just outside Alton.

The writer and God

May 9, 2011
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300

During his whole life, the Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba, The Last Temptation of Christ) was an absolutely coherent man.

Although he touched on religious themes in many of his books – such as an excellent biography of Saint Francis of Assisi – he always considered himself a confirmed atheist.

Well, this confirmed atheist wrote one of the most beautiful definitions of God that I have ever come across:

“We gaze with perplexity at the highest part of the spiral of force that governs the Universe.

“And we call it God.

“We could give it any other name: Abyss, Mystery, Absolute Darkness, Total Light, Matter, Spirit, Supreme Hope, Supreme Despair, Silence.

“But we call it God, because only this name – for some mysterious reason – is capable of making our heart tremble with vigor.

“And let there be no doubt that this trembling is absolutely indispensable for us to be in contact with the basic emotions of the human being”.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

One of the best books on God is How to Know God by Deepak Chopra.

God is
A six-year-old girl writes a letter to God

A six-year-old girl writes a letter to God

April 23, 2011

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

And the Archbishop of Canterbury answers

There’s a charming article in today’s Times by Alex Renton, a non-believer who sends his six-year-old daughter Lulu to a Scottish church primary school. Her teachers asked her to write the following letter: “To God, How did you get invented?” The Rentons were taken aback: “We had no idea that a state primary affiliated with a church would do quite so much God,” says her father. He could have told Lulu that, in his opinion, there was no God; or he could have pretended that he was a believer. He chose to do neither, instead emailing her letter to the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (ditto) and the Scottish Catholics (a nice but theologically complex answer). For good measure, he also sent it to “the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace” – and this was the response:

Dear Lulu,

Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –

‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.

Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.

But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’

And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.

I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lors of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan

I think this letter reveals a lot about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sort of theology – more, indeed, than many of his lectures or agonised Synod addresses. I’d be interested to know whether readers of this blog think he did a good job of answering Lulu’s question.

But what the letter also tells us is that the Archbishop took the trouble to write a really thoughtful message – unmistakably his work and not that of a secretary – to a little girl. “Well done, Rowan!” was the reaction of Alex Renton’s mother, and I agree.

Originally posted in the Telegraph blog by Damian Thompson.

A very impressive and thoughtful reply, and he took the trouble to reply.

God is
Where does religion come from?

Silence is the language of God

April 19, 2011

silence

Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.

— Rumi

Thoughts and prayers for Japan

March 14, 2011
Japanese girl

Japanese girl

As banked clouds
are swept apart by the wind,
at dawn the sudden cry
of the first wild geese
Winging across the mountains.

In a mountain village
at autumn’s end—
that’s where you learn
what sadness means
in the blast of the wintry wind.

— Saigyo (XIIth Century)

Each of the rain drops has a tale to tell
about the sorrows of people
about the hardships living things go through
about the arrival of sparrows.

— Yamamura Bocho (XXth Century)

Out in the marsh reeds
A bird cries out in sorrow,
As though it had recalled
Something better forgotten.

— Ki No Tsurayuri (Xth century)

The evening sky itself
becomes something to cherish
when I gaze at it,
seeing in one of the clouds
the smoke from her funeral pyre

— Murasaki Shikibu (XI century)

Oh you yellow leaves
that whirl upon the autumn slopes
if only for a moment
do not whirl down in such confusion,
that i may see where my beloved dwells.

— Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (8th century)

Lord, protect our planet, because we live here, and here we dwell with our daily tragedies.

May our daily reconstruction be the result of the very best that we carry within us.
Give us the courage
to be able to reconstruct what was destroyed
to be able to recover what was lost
to be able to accept what was gone forever.
May you give us courage to look ahead,
may we never look back nor allow our soul to be discouraged.

Lord, give us enthusiasm, because Enthusiasm reaffirms to us that everything is possible, as long as we are totally committed to what we are doing.

Lord, may the Earth continue to transform seeds into wheat, may we continue to transmute wheat into bread. Do not leave us in solitude.

Have compassion on us, Lord. For we often think we are dressed when we are naked.
Do not forget, in your mercy, our friends in Japan, who are now teaching us the meaning of Courage, Reconstruction, Solidarity and Enthusiasm.

Amen

— Paulo Coelho

Why does God, if God exists, the God of compassion, all powerful, allow these tragedies to occur?

Japan lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, tectonic plates move. It was the movement of tectonic plates that caused the earthquake, the ocean floor rose by several metres sending a tidal wave of water heading out at 500 mph.

Tectonic plates are one of the mechanism of Gaia. Without Gaia there would be no life on earth.

We interfere with Gaia at our peril.

The people of Japan are quite stoic about what happened. They blame no one. They accept it is the force of Nature at work.

Suffering
Christian Theology and Gaia
How to save people in Eastern Japan

Sand and Foam

March 12, 2011
sand and foam

sand and foam

I AM FOREVER walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain
Forever.

Once I filled my hand with mist.
Then I opened it and lo, the mist was a worm.
And I closed and opened my hand again, and behold there was a bird.
And again I closed and opened my hand, and in its hollow stood a man with a sad face, turned upward.
And again I closed my hand, and when I opened it there was naught but mist.
But I heard a song of exceeding sweetness.

It was but yesterday I thought myself a fragment quivering without rhythm in the sphere of life.
Now I know that I am the sphere, and all life in rhythmic fragments moves within me.

They say to me in their awakening, “You and the world you live in are but a grain of sand upon the infinite shore of an infinite sea.”
And in my dream I say to them, “I am the infinite sea, and all worlds are but grains of sand upon my shore.”

Only once have I been made mute. It was when a man asked me, “Who are you?”

The first thought of God was an angel.
The first word of God was a man.

We were fluttering, wandering, longing creatures a thousand thousand years before the sea and the wind in the forest gave us words.
Now how can we express the ancient of days in us with only the sounds of our yesterdays?

The Sphinx spoke only once, and the Sphinx said, “A grain of sand is a desert, and a desert is a grain of sand; and now let us all be silent again.”
I heard the Sphinx, but I did not understand.

Long did I lie in the dust of Egypt, silent and unaware of the seasons.
Then the sun gave me birth, and I rose and walked upon the banks of the Nile,
Singing with the days and dreaming with the nights.
And now the sun threads upon me with a thousand feet that I may lie again in the dust of Egypt.
But behold a marvel and a riddle!
The very sun that gathered me cannot scatter me.
Still erect am I, and sure of foot do I walk upon the banks of the Nile.

Remembrance is a form of meeting.

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.

We measure time according to the movement of countless suns; and they measure time by little machines in their little pockets.
Now tell me, how could we ever meet at the same place and the same time?

Space is not space between the earth and the sun to one who looks down from the windows of the Milky Way.

Humanity is a river of light running from the ex-eternity to eternity.

Do not the spirits who dwell in the ether envy man his pain?

On my way to the Holy City I met another pilgrim and I asked him, “Is this indeed the way to the Holy City?”
And he said, “Follow me, and you will reach the Holy City in a day and a night.”
And I followed him. And we walked many days and many nights, yet we did not reach the Holy City.
And what was to my surprise he became angry with me because he had misled me.

Make me, oh God, the prey of the lion, ere You make the rabbit my prey.

One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night.

My house says to me, “Do not leave me, for here dwells your past.”
And the road says to me, “Come and follow me, for I am your future.”
And I say to both my house and the road, “I have no past, nor have I a future. If I stay here, there is a going in my staying; and if I go there is a staying in my going. Only love and death will change all things.”

How can I lose faith in the justice of life, when the dreams of those who sleep upon feathers are not more beautiful than the dreams of those who sleep upon the earth? Strange, the desire for certain pleasures is a part of my pain.

Seven times have I despised my soul:
The first time when I saw her being meek that she might attain height.
The second time when I saw her limping before the crippled.
The third time when she was given to choose between the hard and the easy, and she chose the easy.
The fourth time when she committed a wrong, and comforted herself that others also commit wrong.
The fifth time when she forbore for weakness, and attributed her patience to strength.
The sixth time when she despised the ugliness of a face, and knew not that it was one of her own masks.
And the seventh time when she sang a song of praise, and deemed it a virtue.

I AM IGNORANT of absolute truth. But I am humble before my ignorance and therein lies my honor and my reward.

There is a space between man’s imagination and man’s attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.

Paradise is there, behind that door, in the next room; but I have lost the key.
Perhaps I have only mislaid it.

You are blind and I am deaf and dumb, so let us touch hands and understand.

The significance of man is not in what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain.

Some of us are like ink and some like paper.
And if it were not for the blackness of some of us, some of us would be dumb;
And if it were not for the whiteness of some of us, some of us would be blind.

Give me an ear and I will give you a voice.

Our mind is a sponge; our heart is a stream.
Is it not strange that most of us choose sucking rather than running?

When you long for blessings that you may not name, and when you grieve knowing not the cause, then indeed you are growing with all things that grow, and rising toward your greater self.

When one is drunk with a vision, he deems his faint expression of it the very wine.

You drink wine that you may be intoxicated; and I drink that it may sober me from that other wine.

When my cup is empty I resign myself to its emptiness; but when it is half full I resent its half-fulness.

The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you.
Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say.

Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you.

A sense of humour is a sense of proportion.

My loneliness was born when men praised my talkative faults and blamed my silent virtues.

When Life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind.

A truth is to be known always, to be uttered sometimes.

The real in us is silent; the acquired is talkative.

The voice of life in me cannot reach the ear of life in you; but let us talk that we may not feel lonely.

When two women talk they say nothing; when one woman speaks she reveals all of life.

Frogs may bellow louder than bulls, but they cannot drag the plough in the field not turn the wheel of the winepress, and of their skins you cannot make shoes.

Only the dumb envy the talkative.

If winter should say, “Spring is in my heart,” who would believe winter?

Every seed is a longing.

Should you really open your eyes and see, you would behold your image in all images.
And should you open your ears and listen, you would hear your own voice in all voices.

It takes two of us to discover truth: one to utter it and one to understand it.

Though the wave of words is forever upon us, yet our depth is forever silent.

Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.

Now let us play hide and seek. Should you hide in my heart it would not be difficult to find you. But should you hide behind your own shell, then it would be useless for anyone to seek you. A woman may veil her face with a smile.

How noble is the sad heart who would sing a joyous song with joyous hearts.

He who would understand a woman, or dissect genius, or solve the mystery of silence is the very man who would wake from a beautiful dream to sit at a breakfast table.

I would walk with all those who walk. I would not stand still to watch the procession passing by.

You owe more than gold to him who serves you. Give him of your heart or serve him.

Nay, we have not lived in vain. Have they not built towers of our bones?

Let us not be particular and sectional. The poet’s mind and the scorpion’s tail rise in glory from the same earth.

Every dragon gives birth to a St. George who slays it.

Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper that we may record our emptiness.

Should you care to write (and only the saints know why you should) you must needs have knowledge and art and music — the knowledge of the music of words, the art of being artless, and the magic of loving your readers.

They dip their pens in our hearts and think they are inspired.

Should a tree write its autobiography it would not be unlike the history of a race.

If I were to choose between the power of writing a poem and the ecstasy of a poem unwritten, I would choose the ecstasy. It is better poetry.
But you and all my neighbors agree that I always choose badly.

Poetry is not an opinion expressed. It is a song that rises from a bleeding wound or a smiling mouth.

Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.

A POET IS a dethroned king sitting among the ashes of his palace trying to fashion an image out of the ashes.

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.

In vain shall a poet seek the mother of the songs of his heart.

Once I said to a poet, “We shall not know your worth until you die.”
And he answered saying, “Yes, death is always the revealer. And if indeed you would know my worth it is that I have more in my heart than upon my tongue, and more in my desire than in my hand.”

If you sing of beauty though alone in the heart of the desert you will have an audience.

Poetry is wisdom that enchants the heart.
Wisdom is poetry that sings in the mind.
If we could enchant man’s heart and at the same time sing in his mind,
Then in truth he would live in the shadow of God.

Inspiration will always sing; inspiration will never explain.

We often sing lullabies to our children that we ourselves may sleep.

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.

Thinking is always the stumbling stone to poetry.

A great singer is he who sings our silences.

How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food?
How shall your hand be raised in blessing if it is filled with gold?

They say the nightingale pierces his bosom with a thorn when he sings his love song.
So do we all. How else should we sing?

Genius is but a robin’s song at the beginning of a slow spring.

Even the most winged spirit cannot escape physical necessity.

A madman is not less a musician than you or myself; only the instrument on which he plays is a little out of tune.

The song that lies silent in the heart of a mother sings upon the lips of her child.

No longing remains unfulfilled.

I have never agreed with my other self wholly. The truth of the matter seems to lie between us.

Your other self is always sorry for you. But your other self grows on sorrow; so all is well.

There is no struggle of soul and body save in the minds of those whose souls are asleep and whose bodies are out of tune.

When you reach the heart of life you shall find beauty in all things, even in the eyes that are blind to beauty.

We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.

Sow a seed and the earth will yield you a flower. Dream your dream to the sky and it will bring you your beloved.

The devil died the very day you were born.
Now you do not have to go through hell to meet an angel.

Many a woman borrows a man’s heart; very few could possess it.

If you would possess you must not claim.

When a man’s hand touches the hand of a woman they both touch the heart of eternity.

Love is the veil between lover and lover.

Every man loves two women; the one is the creation of his imagination, and the other is not yet born.

Men who do not forgive women their little faults will never enjoy their great virtues.

Love that does not renew itself every day becomes a habit and in turn a slavery.

Lovers embrace that which is between them rather than each other.

Love and doubt have never been on speaking terms.

Love is a word of light, written by a hand of light, upon a page of light.

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.

If you do not understand your friend under all conditions you will never understand him.

Your most radiant garment is of the other person’s weaving;
You most savory meal is that which you eat at the other person’s table;
Your most comfortable bed is in the other person’s house.
Now tell me, how can you separate yourself from the other person?

Your mind and my heart will never agree until your mind ceases to live in numbers and my heart in the mist.

We shall never understand one another until we reduce the language to seven words.

HOW SHALL MY heart be unsealed unless it be broken?

Only great sorrow or great joy can reveal your truth.
If you would be revealed you must either dance naked in the sun, or carry your cross.

Should nature heed what we say of contentment no river would seek the sea, and no winter would turn to Spring. Should she heed all we say of thrift, how many of us would be breathing this air?

You see but your shadow when you turn your back to the sun.

You are free before the sun of the day, and free before the stars of the night;
And you are free when there is no sun and no moon and no star.
You are even free when you close your eyes upon all there is.
But you are a slave to him whom you love because you love him,
And a slave to him who loves you because he loves you.

We are all beggars at the gate of the temple, and each one of us receives his share of the bounty of the King when he enters the temple, and when he goes out.
But we are all jealous of one another, which is another way of belittling the King.

You cannot consume beyond your appetite. The other half of the loaf belongs to the other person, and there should remain a little bread for the chance guest.

If it were not for your guests all houses would be graves.

Said a gracious wolf to a simple sheep, “Will you not honor our house with a visit?”
And the sheep answered, “We would have been honored to visit your house if it were not in your stomach.”

I stopped my guest on the threshold and said, “Nay, wipe not your feet as you enter, but as you go out.”

Generosity is not in giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is in giving me that which you need more than I do.

You are indeed charitable when you give, and while giving, turn your face away so that you may not see the shyness of the receiver.

The difference between the richest man and the poorest is but a day of hunger and an hour of thirst.

We often borrow from our tomorrows to pay our debts to our yesterdays.

I too am visited by angels and devils, but I get rid of them.
When it is an angel I pray an old prayer, and he is bored;
When it is a devil I commit an old sin, and he passes me by.

After all this is not a bad prison; but I do not like this wall between my cell and the next prisoner’s cell;
Yet I assure you that I do not wish to reproach the warder not the Builder of the prison.

Those who give you a serpent when you ask for a fish, may have nothing but serpents to give. It is then generosity on their part.

Trickery succeeds sometimes, but it always commits suicide.

You are truly a forgiver when you forgive murderers who never spill blood, thieves who never steal, and liars who utter no falsehood.

He who can put his finger upon that which divides good from evil is he who can touch the very hem of the garment of God.

If your heart is a volcano how shall you expect flowers to bloom in your hands?

A strange form of self-indulgence! There are times when I would be wronged and cheated, that I may laugh at the expense of those who think I do not know I am being wronged and cheated.

What shall I say of him who is the pursuer playing the part of the pursued?

Let him who wipes his soiled hands with your garment take your garment. He may need it again; surely you would not.

It is a pity that money-changers cannot be good gardeners.

Please do not whitewash your inherent faults with your acquired virtues. I would have the faults; they are like mine own.

How often have I attributed to myself crimes I have never committed, so that the other person may feel comfortable in my presence.

Even the masks of life are masks of deeper mystery.

You may judge others only according to your knowledge of yourself.
Tell me now, who among us is guilty and who is unguilty?

The truly just is he who feels half guilty of your misdeeds.

Only an idiot and a genius break man-made laws; and they are the nearest to the heart of God.

It is only when you are pursued that you become swift.

I have no enemies, O God, but if I am to have an enemy
Let his strength be equal to mine,
That truth alone may be the victor.

You will be quite friendly with your enemy when you both die.

Perhaps a man may commit suicide in self-defense.

Long ago there lived a Man who was crucified for being too loving and too lovable.
And strange to relate I met him thrice yesterday.
The first time He was asking a policeman not to take a prostitute to prison; the second time He was drinking wine with an outcast; and the third time He was having a fist-fight with a promoter inside a church.

If all they say of good and evil were true, then my life is but one long crime.

Pity is but half justice.

THE ONLY ONE who has been unjust to me is the one to whose brother I have been unjust.

When you see a man led to prison say in your heart, “Mayhap he is escaping from a narrower prison.”
And when you see a man drunken say in your heart, “Mayhap he sought escape from something still more unbeautiful.”

Oftentimes I have hated in self-defense; but if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon.

How stupid is he who would patch the hatred in his eyes with the smile of his lips.

Only those beneath me can envy or hate me.
I have never been envied nor hated; I am above no one.
Only those above me can praise or belittle me.
I have never been praised nor belittled; I am below no one.

Your saying to me, “I do not understand you,” is praise beyond my worth, and an insult you do not deserve. How mean am I when life gives me gold and I give you silver, and yet I deem myself generous.

When you reach the heart of life you will find yourself not higher than the felon, and not lower than the prophet.

Strange that you should pity the slow-footed and not the slow-minded,
And the blind-eyed rather than the blind-hearted.

It is wiser for the lame not to break his crutches upon the head of his enemy.

How blind is he who gives you out of his pocket that he may take out of your heart.

Life is a procession. The slow of foot finds it too swift and he steps out;
And the swift of foot finds it too slow and he too steps out.

If there is such a thing as sin some of us commit it backward following our forefathers’ footsteps;
And some of us commit it forward by overruling our children.

The truly good is he who is one with all those who are deemed bad.

We are all prisoners but some of us are in cells with windows and some without.

Strange that we all defend our wrongs with more vigor than we do our rights.

Should we all confess our sins to one another we would all laugh at one another for our lack of originality.
Should we all reveal our virtues we would also laugh for the same cause.

An individual is above man-made laws until he commits a crime against man-made conventions; After that he is neither above anyone nor lower than anyone.

Government is an agreement between you and myself. You and myself are often wrong.

Crime is either another name of need or an aspect of a disease.

Is there a greater fault than being conscious of the other person’s faults?

If the other person laughs at you, you can pity him; but if you laugh at him you may never forgive yourself.
If the other person injures you, you may forget the injury; but if you injure him you will always remember.
In truth the other person is your most sensitive self given another body.

How heedless you are when you would have men fly with your wings and you cannot even give them a feather.

Once a man sat at my board and ate my bread and drank my wine and went away laughing at me.
Then he came again for bread and wine, and I spurned him;
And the angels laughed at me.

Hate is a dead thing. Who of you would be a tomb?

It is the honor of the murdered that he is not the murderer.

The tribune of humanity is in its silent heart, never its talkative mind.

They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold;
And I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.

They spread before us their riches of gold and silver, of ivory and ebony, and we spread before them our hearts and our spirits.;
And yet they deem themselves the hosts and us the guests.

I would not be the least among men with dreams and the desire to fulfill them, rather than the greatest with no dreams and no desires.

The most pitiful among men is he who turns his dreams into silver and gold.

We are all climbing toward the summit of our hearts’ desire. Should the other climber steal your sack and your purse and wax fat on the one and heavy on the other, you should pity him;
The climbing will be harder for his flesh, and the burden will make his way longer.
And should you in your leanness see his flesh puffing upward, help him a step; it will add to your swiftness.

You cannot judge any man beyond your knowledge of him, and how small is your knowledge.

I would not listen to a conqueror preaching to the conquered.

The truly free man is he who bears the load of the bond slave patiently.

A thousand years ago my neighbor said to me, “I hate life, for it is naught but a thing of pain.”
And yesterday I passed by a cemetery and saw life dancing upon his grave.

Strife in nature is but disorder longing for order.

Solitude is a silent storm that breaks down all our dead branches;
Yet it sends our living roots deeper into the living heart of the living earth.

Once I spoke of the sea to a brook, and the brook thought me but an imaginative exaggerator;
And once I spoke of a brook to the sea, and the sea thought me but a depreciative defamer.

How narrow is the vision that exalts the busyness of the ant above the singing of the grasshopper.

The highest virtue here may be the least in another world.

The deep and the high go to the depth or to the height in a straight line; only the spacious can move in circles.

IF IT WERE not for our conception of weights and measures we would stand in awe of the firefly as we do before the sun.

A scientist without imagination is a butcher with dull knives and out-worn scales.
But what would you, since we are not all vegetarians?

When you sing the hungry hears you with his stomach.

Death is not nearer to the aged than to the new-born; neither is life.

If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully; otherwise keep silent, for there is a man in our neighborhood who is dying.

Mayhap a funeral among men is a wedding feast among the angels.

A forgotten reality may die and leave in its will seven thousand actualities and facts to be spent in its funeral and the building of a tomb.

In truth we talk only to ourselves, but sometimes we talk loud enough that others may hear us.

The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.

If the Milky Way were not within me how should I have seen it or known it?

Unless I am a physician among physicians they would not believe that I am an astronomer.

Perhaps the sea’s definition of a shell is the pearl.
Perhaps time’s definition of coal is the diamond.

Fame is the shadow of passion standing in the light.

A root is a flower that disdains fame.

There is neither religion nor science beyond beauty.

Every great man I have known had something small in his make-up; and it was that small something which prevented inactivity or madness or suicide.

The truly great man is he who would master no one, and who would be mastered by none.

I would not believe that a man is mediocre simply because he kills the criminals and the prophets.

Tolerance is love sick with the sickness of haughtiness.

Worms will turn; but is it not strange that even elephants will yield?

A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds.

I am the flame and I am the dry bush, and one part of me consumes the other part.

We are all seeking the summit of the holy moutain; but shall not our road be shorter if we consider the past a chart and not a guide?

Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too self-ful to seek other than itself.

Had I filled myself with all that you know what room should I have for all that you do not know?

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.

A bigot is a stone-leaf orator.

The silence of the envious is too noisy.

When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.

An exaggeration is a truth that has lost its temper.

If you can see only what light reveals and hear only what sound announces,
Then in truth you do not see nor do you hear.

A fact is a truth unsexed.

You cannot laugh and be unkind at the same time.

The nearest to my heart are a king without a kingdom and a poor man who does not know how to beg.

A shy failure is nobler than an immodest success.

Dig anywhere in the earth and you will find a treasure, only you must dig with the faith of a peasant.

Said a hunted fox followed by twenty horsemen and a pack of twenty hounds, “Of course they will kill me. But how poor and how stupid they must be. Surely it would not be worth while for twenty foxes riding on twenty asses and accompanied by twenty wolves to chase and kill one man.”

It is the mind in us that yields to the laws made by us, but never the spirit in us.

A traveler am I and a navigator, and every day I discover a new region within my soul.

A woman protested saying, “Of course it was a righteous war. My son fell in it.”

I said to Life, “I would hear Death speak.”
And Life raised her voice a little higher and said, “You hear him now.”

When you have solved all the mysteries of life you long for death, for it is but another mystery of life.

Birth and death are the two noblest expressions of bravery.

My friend, you and I shall remain strangers unto life,
And unto one another, and each unto himself,
Until the day when you shall speak and I shall listen
Deeming your voice my own voice;
And when I shall stand before you
Thinking myself standing before a mirror.

They say to me, “Should you know yourself you would know all men.”
And I say, “Only when I seek all men shall I know myself.”

MAN IS TWO men; one is awake in darkness, the other is asleep in light.

A hermit is one who renounces the world of fragments that he may enjoy the world wholly and without interruption.

There lies a green field between the scholar and the poet; should the scholar cross it he becomes a wise man; should the poet cross it, he becomes a prophet.

Yestereve I saw philosophers in the market-place carrying their heads in baskets, and crying aloud, “Wisdom! Wisdom for sale!”
Poor philosophers! They must needs sell their heads to feed their hearts. Said a philosopher to a street sweeper, “I pity you. Yours is a hard and dirty task.”
And the street sweeper said, “Thank you, sir. But tell me what is your task?”
And the philosopher answered saying, “I study man’s mind, his deeds and his desires.”
Then the street sweeper went on with his sweeping and said with a smile, “I pity you too.”

He who listens to truth is not less than he who utters truth.

No man can draw the line between necessities and luxuries. Only the angels can do that, and the angels are wise and wistful.
Perhaps the angels are our better thought in space.

He is the true prince who finds his throne in the heart of the dervish.

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.

In truth you owe naught to any man. You owe all to all men.

All those who have lived in the past live with us now. Surely none of us would be an ungracious host.

He who longs the most lives the longest.

They say to me, “A bird in the hand is worth ten in the bush.”
But I say, “A bird and a feather in the bush is worth more than ten birds in the hand.”
Your seeking after that feather is life with winged feet; nay, it is life itself.

There are only two elements here, beauty and truth; beauty in the hearts of lovers, and truth in the arms of the tillers of the soil.

Great beauty captures me, but a beauty still greater frees me even from itself.

Beauty shines brighter in the heart of him who longs for it than in the eyes of him who sees it.

I admire him who reveals his mind to me; I honor him who unveils his dreams. But why am I shy, and even a little ashamed before him who serves me?

The gifted were once proud in serving princes.
Now they claim honor in serving paupers.

The angels know that too many practical men eat their bread with the sweat of the dreamer’s brow.

Wit is often a mask. If you could tear it you would find either a genius irritated or cleverness juggling.

The understanding attributes to me understanding and the dull, dullness. I think they are both right.

Only those with secrets in their hearts could divine the secrets in our hearts.

He who would share your pleasure but not your pain shall lose the key to one of the seven gates of Paradise.

Yes, there is a Nirvanah; it is in leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.

We choose our joys and our sorrows long before we experience them.

Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.

When either your joy or your sorrow becomes great the world becomes small.

Desire is half of life; idifference is half of death.

The bitterest thing in our today’s sorrow is the memory of our yesterday’s joy.

They say to me, “You must needs choose between the pleasures of this world and the peace of the next world.”
And I say to them, “I have chosen both the delights of this world and the peace of the next. For I know in my heart that the Supreme Poet wrote but one poem, and it scans perfectly, and it also rhymes perfectly.”

Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.

When you reach your height you shall desire but only for desire; and you shall hunger, for hunger; and you shall thirst for greater thirst.

If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

The flowers of spring are winter’s dreams related at the breakfast table of the angels.

Said a skunk to a tube-rose, “See how swiftly I run, while you cannot walk nor even creep.”
Said the tube-rose to the skunk, “Oh, most noble swift runner, please run swiftly!”

Turtles can tell more about roads than hares.

Strange that creatures without backbones have the hardest shells.

The most talkative is the least intelligent, and there is hardly a difference between an orator and an auctioneer.

Be grateful that you do not have to live down the renown of a father nor the wealth of an uncle.
But above all be grateful that no one will have to live down either your renown or your wealth.

Only when a juggler misses catching his ball does he appeal to me.

The envious praises me unknowingly.

Long were you a dream in your mother’s sleep, and then she woke to give you birth.

The germ of the race is in your mother’s longing.

My father and mother desired a child and they begot me.
And I wanted a mother and a father and I begot night and the sea.

Some of our children are our justifications and some are but our regrets.

When night comes and you too are dark, lie down and be dark with a will.
And when morning comes and you are still dark stand up and say to the day with a will, “I am still dark.”
It is stupid to play a role with the night and the day.
They would both laugh at you.

The mountain veiled in mist is not a hill; an oak tree in the rain is not a weeping willow.

Behold here is a paradox; the deep and high are nearer to one another than the mid-level to either.

When I stood a clear mirror before you, you gazed into me and saw your image.
Then you said, “I love you.”
But in truth you loved yourself in me.

When you enjoy loving your neighbor it ceases to be a virtue.

Love which is not always springing is always dying.

You cannot have youth and the knowledge of it at the same time;
For youth is too busy living to know, and knowledge is too busy seeking itself to live. You may sit at your window watching the passersby. And watching you may see a nun walking toward your right hand, and a prostitute toward your left hand.
And you may say in your innocence, “How noble is the one and how ignoble is the other.”
But should you close your eyes and listen awhile you would hear a voice whispering in the ether, “One seeks me in prayer, and the other in pain. And in the spirit of each there is a bower for my spirit.”

Once every hundred years Jesus of Nazareth meets Jesus of the Christian in a garden among the hills of Lebanon. And they talk long; and each time Jesus of Nazareth goes away saying to Jesus of the Christian, “My friend, I fear we shall never, never agree.”

May God feed the over-abundant!

A great man has two hearts; one bleeds and the other forbears.

Should one tell a lie which does not hurt you nor anyone else, why not say in your heart that the house of his facts is too small for his fancies, and he had to leave it for larger space?

Behind every closed door is a mystery sealed with seven seals.

Waiting is the hoofs of time.

What if trouble should be a new window in the Eastern wall of your house?

You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.

There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea.

Our God in His gracious thirst will drink us all, the dewdrop and the tear.

You are but a fragment of your giant self, a mouth that seeks bread, and a blind hand that holds the cup for a thirsty mouth.

If you would rise but a cubit above race and country and self you would indeed become godlike.

If I were you I would not find fault with the sea at low tide.
It is a good ship and our Captain is able; it is only your stomach that is in disorder.

Should you sit upon a cloud you would not see the boundary line between one country and another, nor the boundary stone between a farm and a farm.
It is a pity you cannot sit upon a cloud.

Seven centuries ago seven white doves rose from a deep valley flying to the snow-white summit of the mountain. One of the seven men who watched the flight said, “I see a black spot on the wing of the seventh dove.”
Today the people in that valley tell of seven black doves who flew to the summit of the snowy mountain.

In the autumn I gathered all my sorrows and buried them in my garden.
And when April returned and spring came to wed the earth, there grew in my garden beautiful flowers unlike all other flowers.
And my neighbors came to behold them, and they all said to me, “When autumn comes again, at seeding time, will you not give us of the seeds of these flowers that we may have them in our gardens?”

It is indeed misery if I stretch an empty hand to men and receive nothing; but it is hopelessness if I stretch a full hand and find none to receive.

I long for eternity because there I shall meet my unwritten poems and my unpainted pictures.

Art is a step from nature toward the Infinite.

A work of art is a mist carved into an image.

Even the hands that make crowns of thorns are better than idle hands.

Our most sacred tears never seek our eyes.

Every man is the descendant of every king and every slave that ever lived.

If the great-grandfather of Jesus had known what was hidden within him, would he not have stood in awe of himself?

Was the love of Judas’ mother of her son less than the love of Mary for Jesus?

There are three miracles of our Brother Jesus not yet recorded in the Book: the first that He was a man like you and me, the second that He had a sense of humour, and the third that He knew He was a conqueror though conquered.

Crucified One, you are crucified upon my heart; and the nails that pierce your hands pierce the walls of my heart.
And tomorrow when a stranger passes by this Golgotha he will not know that two bled here.
He will deem it the blood of one man.

You may have heard of the Blessed Mountain.
It is the highest mountain in our world.
Should you reach the summit you would have only one desire, and that to descend and be with those who dwell in the deepest valley.
That is why it is called the Blessed Mountain.

Every thought I have imprisoned in expression I must free by my deeds.

— Kahlil Gibran

For my lovely friend Sian.

Also see

Footprints in the Sand


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