New Year, New Philosophy

How Kahlil Gibran's ‘The Prophet’ can influence your 2023

by Philipp Prüller 

Well, another chaotic year has come to an end and with that comes reflecting on what you’ve managed to achieve or complete since January. Although I miraculously managed to hit the gym more often and not call any of my exes, I also failed to improve nearly anything else because of the unrealistic expectations I set out for myself. This year I’m trying something different: Does it really make sense for us to focus on specific things to achieve, rather than making a behavioral change and approaching things differently? By changing the way we talk and feel about ourselves and others, we are not only able to improve the quality of our own lives but the ones of others as well.

In 1923 “The Prophet” by Lebanese-American poet and writer Kahlil Gibran was published. The book is divided into 28 chapters, of which 26 are fables about everyday topics. It revolves around a prophet called Almustafa who is to be taken back to his island of origin. After living in a city called Orphalese for 12 years, he’s now finally heading home on a ship that arrives to pick him up. On his way to the harbor, he is stopped by people from every face of society, who pose questions about life and how to deal with it. These questions are then answered in small philosophical monologues. I am confident that these fables are still relevant today and could pose an intellectual guideline for 2023. In the following, I have picked five crucial aspects of life that Almustafa speaks to the people about and will briefly elaborate on them.

about love

Photograph by Wolfgang Hassel on Unsplash

“Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.” – Gibran suggests that love can bring great joy, but also pain and suffering under certain circumstances. He further states that it is important to embrace love fully and not be afraid to open oneself up to the vulnerabilities and challenges that it may bring. The greatest possible fulfillment that love has to offer can only come with a true commitment to loving itself. If you decide to love, you should love fully, without limitations, and also not expect to get something in return, for love is selfless.

about giving

Photograph by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving." The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.” – Giving and receiving are core concepts of life itself. One cannot exist without the other. It is essential that one gives freely and without interest in your own personal gain so that giving can be perceived as a pure and selfless act of love rather than an obligation. Giving is not only limited to material possessions but also to time, energy, actions, and things like sharing one's talents open-heartedly. To achieve a fulfilling life, one should give gratitude for the opportunity to share with others.

about reason and passion

Photograph by Sara Darcaj on Unsplash

“I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.” – Reason and Passion shouldn’t be seen as two opposing foes but rather as two sides of the same coin. As impossible as it is to divide a coin without destroying it, so is to divide reason and passion in oneself. They require harmony and should be balanced so that the human soul can progress. Combined, these two aspects of ourselves ensure we approach our work and relationships with love and care, rather than doing things because we feel that you must do them. They allow us to create something beautiful and meaningful.

about friendship

Photograph by Tobias Mrzyk on Unsplash

“And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.“ – Friendship brings joy, comfort, and strength to our lives. What would we be without the people closest to us? The amount of trust, love, and gratitude in friendships can form the strongest bonds imaginable. From time to time, the feeling of having someone in your “corner” to protect, listen and care for you reassures us to continue to walk our path. But as life has its ups and downs so do friendships. It is important to not only share the bad times but also the good because nobody wants to feel like being only used when someone is in need. Sharing uplifting moments in your life will also tighten bonds and fill your friends with joy. That being said it is important to not be envious of others but rather be happy for their achievements, so you can grow together.

about good and evil

Photograph by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash

“For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?.” – As it is with reason and passion, good and evil are coexisting and possess elements of one another. How can there be good without evil and how can there be evil without good? Evil is not a quality that exists by itself but rather a distortion of good. By balancing out how we view good and evil, we achieve a clearer insight into our mindset toward certain circumstances. Are things you perceive as evil or good different if you approach them from a different point of view? Are you maybe even insisting on a point of view that may not be thoroughly thought thru? To break the cycle, we have to be open to not being too sure about ourselves but to be sure of the values we want to live by. Things may not be as they seem and before making a judgment it is always wise to remember that evil may just be good that got lost along the way.

'The Prophet is really saying one thing';

"you are far far greater than you know, and all is well"  Kahlil Gibran