Henry Leo Bolduc
Every few hundred years, a blazing beacon hurls itself onto this plane called reality. On January 6, 1883, such a great light took form, blessing us with Kahlil Gibran. Through this channel were to come many famous works. This Lebanese-born poet, philosopher and artist knew from early childhood that life was more than it seemed.
Even though my name appears as author of this article, without the literary and editorial assistance of my friend and co-author, Mr. Baldwin L. Troutman, this article might not have been written. Mr. Troutman is a retired nuclear physicist who lives in Newnan, Georgia. When some people retire they go in to semi-hibernation, but Mr. Troutman is utilizing the experiences of a lifetime by generously giving and writing articles for the benefit of all.
As a memorial and tribute to Kahlil Gibran, on Memorial Day weekend 1991, a meditation garden was dedicated to his memory and donated to the American people. The garden, on Embassy Row (Massachusetts Avenue) in Washington, DC is near the vice-president's residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the southeast corner of Normanstone Park (it has no street number).
In normal times, the dedicatioin of a new garden might not ba a major event in a city of gardens, yet this dedication had profound significance because it followed a war with an Arab nation. Arab people and people of Arab descent everywhere, from former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu to actor Jamie Farr of M*A*S*H, hold Kahlil Gibran in the highest esteem. Even former President Jimmy Carter kept only two books on his night stand - the Bible and Gibran's most well-known book, The Prophet. Gibran was a man of peace and this dedication may greatly increase the healing of relations between Arab peoples and create a common ground for peace everywhere.
Almost everyone has heard selections from The Prophet or read all or parts of it. In fact, in the United States alone over eight million copies have been sold in well over 100 printings - a publishing miracle! it has been officially translated into over 20 languages and unofficially into virtually every known language. The Prophet is not Kahlil Gibran's only success. His second bost popular book, Jesus, the Son of Man, is considered by many to be the finest book compiled on the life of Jesus. In all, he wrote over a dozen books in English and numerous more in Arabic, In addidion to his passionate writineg, Gibran is also respected for his visionary art. Timeless and beautiful, his drawings and paintings speak to the inner souls of viewers.
Born in Bsherri, Lebanon, Gibran often reflected on his childhood. He loved the town of his birth; as an adult he longed for home, but stood firm on his morals and ideals, which kept him in exile in America. In his childhood he would sit on the hillside with pencil and paper capturing nature and espressing his deep love for God and mankind. His father did not want him to draw, considering it foolish; nevertheless Kahlil always found time for this great pleasure. Caught several times, he was severely punished.
Even though his father was a violent man who squandered most of the family money on alcohol, Kahlil always loved and respected him. When Kahlil was 11, his father was imprisoned for tax embezzlement, and all the family possessions were confiscated, In later life when Kahlil spoke of his father, it was with respect, demonstrating that he held no resentment toward anyone who may have wronged him. Kahlil also dearly loved his mother, who was the daughter of a villiage priest. She had been widowed at an early age and had born a son, Peter, through her first marriage. With her marriage to Kahlil's father came three other children - Kahlil, Sultana and Marianna.
After his father's imprisonment, his mother, Kamilah, took Kahlil, his two sisters, and his brother to Paris. After a brief stay in Paris, they immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, where they all worked except Kahlil, who attended school. Peter opened a shop, and Kamilah, Sultana, and Marianna worked as seamstresses.
Kamilah was a loving and devoted mother to all of her children. She knew Kahlil had talents and was destined to become great. After her death, he would often speak to others of her great kindness and long suffering. A deep feeling of thankfulness should remain in our hearts for her, for it is because of her contributions, along with those of others, that we have been blessed with these many great works of Kahlil Gibran.
Young Kahlil did return to Lebganon for futher schooling, but came back to Boston at age 16, when he began his work in painting and writing. By this time his father had been released from prison, but it was never known whether he ever provided any support to the family.
The turn of the century was a time of tragedy for the family. Sultana died of tuberculosis in 1902, and Peter in 1903, also of tuberculosis. So when Kahlil lost his beloved mother to cancer in 1903, the grief and the pain of his losses left him devastated. Then, after many dark nights, a brighter day dawned. In 1904, Gibran met Mary Haskell at a Boston exhibition of his paintings. Mary helped Kahlil in numerous ways for many years, encouraging his artistic career and his writings. She made it possible for him to study art in paris with Auguste Rodin, and he always felt deep gratitude to her for helping make his successes possible. For her part, she was always in awe of his ever-evolving work.
From 1908 until his death, Kahlil wrote 325 letters to Mary, while she wrote 290 to him. The love relationship between them comes alive in the book, Beloved Prophet, edited by Virginia Hilu. The book contains verbatim quotes from journal entries and the love letters between the two. The following excerpt from a letter dated March 1, 1918, summariazes much of the love and wisdom of this great man:
"Silence is painful, but in silence things take form, and we must wait and watch, In us, in our secret depth, lies the knowing element which sees and hears that which we do not see nor hear. All our perceptions, all the things we have done, all that we are today, dwelt once in that knowing, silent depth, that treasure chamber in the soul. And we are more than we think, We are more than we know. That which is more than we think and know is always seeking and adding to itself while we are doing - or think we are doing nothing. But to be conscious of what is going in in our depth is to help it along. When subconsciousness becomes consciousness, the seeds in our winter-clad selves turn to flowers, and the silent life in us sings with all its might. This Life reveals much of that which we do not know - but it is Life after death that reveals all."
Mary realized early on that much of Kahlil's material came from journeys deep within, since under the right combination of space, time and calmness, he gave the images that came through him a life all their own. Nonetheless, Gibran sought Mary's opinion on much of his work. He valued her taste and honesty, and she became a great help in problems of translation of his early writing.
Later in life, another woman, Barbara Young, was also helpful to him in his work. She wrote a book, entitled This Man From Lebanon - a study of Kahlil Gibran, about her years with Kahlil, in which she freely admits her devotion to Gibran: "For seven years and up to the very moment of his death, I had the joy and privilege of knowing Gibran as poet and painter, and as a close and beloved friend. Seven years of friendship and work; as he so generously said we were 'poets working together in Beauty's name'"Back to the Index
As time went on, Gibran evolved into a higher realm from which he channeled many of his works. He was able to enter a kind of trance and would often say, "Forgive me. So much of the time I am not here". Frequently he was observed when this silence descended upon him and energy could be felt in the room.
In Boston Kahlil told Mary (and her friend Charlotte) about his experiments with trance work. Previously he had written about these trance experiences:
"All my life, from time to time, just as I go to sleep I have felt as if I were rising. I have been conscious of two selves - of me and me. I have never tried to separate these two personalities until very recently. I often think out things in bed, just before I go to sleep - some of my best things come that way."
He described these strange sensations of "rising out of myself" seeing his own "very pale" image, of hearing himself speak, but not remembering - "I don't know what I said". Mary and Charlotte insisted on observing this experience, so Gibran put himself into trance and Mary questioned him. He experienced seeing a "round light" and "hearing music", but when he "came back", Charlotte advised him not to repeat it. Fortunately, his friend's fear of things unknown did not end his experiments with what is now called trance-channeling. He persisted and opened himself to the higher spiritual realms from which his book, Jesus, the Son of Man, was channeled in its entirety.
In her book, Barbara Young tells how Gibran had always planned to write a book about Jesus - perhaps in about five years. But without warning, on the 12th of November, 1926, came a moment that would live forever in her memory. Gibran had been pacing back and forth, restlessly working on a different book. Suddenly, he stopped, She describes a strange dark look coming over his face. This curious transformation, she knew from experience fortold some swift and startling message. The vibration of the room changed, and she reached for her notebook.
Kahlil bent his head and his face became old and piteous. The voice of a disconsolate being came through. It was definitely not Gibran's voice. The pain and despair shot through Barbara "like a rapier", she said. The voice began to speak: "It was fifty years ago tonight - the memory is like a scorpion coiled around my heart! It is like a cup more bitter than wormwood..."
The voice, or rather the enitity, continued speaking, and then repeated the words, Barbara intended to write down the spoken words, but could not. She said that almost as suddenly as Kahlil had become this alien, he returned to himself.
"Do you know who I was?" he asked.
"No", she answered.
"I was Judas. Poor Judas."
That very night he began writing the book about Jesus. Barbra carefully states that he was more living the book than just writing. He channeled the words of 77 people who had shared their experiences with Jesus. Each of the 77 characters, friends and foe alike, came alive again in his New York City studio that he called "The Hermitage". Each voice spoke through his lips, and many times the exhaustion at the end of the canneling was so complete as to be frightening.
As he did this amazing work, Barbara Young said, "A radiance would shine upon his countenance. His great soul was laid bare." And so was born the beautiful book, Jesus, the Son of Man, His Words and His Deeds as Told and Recorded by Those Who Knew Him.Back to the Index
Kahlil also acknowledged a spirit guide, Almustafa, whose story is told in The Prophet, the book many people consider the most beautiful book ever written in the English language. "That being (Almustafa) has always been with me, I think".
The Prophet, published in 1923, was to be one of a trilogy about his spiritual guide. Two books were completed: The Prophet and The Garden of the Prophet. The third, tentatively entitled The Death of the Prophet was never completed.
The Prophet was written when Gibran was 15 years of age, originally in his native Arabic language. By age 25 he was living and studying art in Paris where he was well known for his paintings. A few times he took out the story of Almustafa to show to friends, but all said it was not yet perfected, So he rewrote it, this time in English, a task that was to take five years. The first printing was only 1,300 copies and was not a big success. However, sales continued, slowly and steadily, as people told others and friend told friends.
It is my sincere belief that the channeling phenomenon is far more widespread that we realize. Far more men, women and children throughout history have accessed this higher source than we can imagine. There are infinite possibilities of acquiring wisdom without having consciously learned the information. The human potential is more vast and timeless than our limited perception can acknowledge.
I believe that many human experiences are in truth channeling, but are commonly called by other names. Channeling can occur when actions or communications come that are not actually originating from the individual. An artist who paints and finds that the picture seems to have painted itself, a dancer who dances on "automatic", a teacher who presents material that is unplanned or unexpected, a healer who takes actions not previously learned - these examples and others suggest a form of channeling.Back to the Index
Barbara Young had often asked herself why her life should have been so connected whith that of Gibran. Then one evening while they were working together on another book (Sand and Foam), she piled cushions upon the floor instead of taking her usual chair. There was something familiar about the gesture, and she said to Gibran, "I feel as if I've sat beside you many times - but I really haven't". He waited a moment, as he often did before replying, then answered, "We have done this a thousand years ago, and we shall do it a thousand years hence."
Thus Gibran expressed his utter belief in what he called "the continuity of life"; he never used the word "reincarnation." Barbara said that it was his profound certainty that the human spirit has lived and shall live, timelessly. He believed that tthe bonds of love, devotion and friendship would bring together these endlessly reborn beings. In the same manner, animosity, evil and hatred have the same effect of reassembling groups of entities from one cycle to another.
Like the Master, Jesus, Gibran taught eternal life in parable and metaphor. In the conclusion of The Prophet, Gibran writes:
"If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together, and you shall sing to me a deeper song. Know therefore, that from the greater silence I shall return."
I was reminded of my own work with past-life regression research. There Gibran hints of returning again in another lifetime: "A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me." With reference to himslf, he writes, "Seven times was I born, and seven times have I died."
Reincarnation is encompassed within the philosophies of many countries and peoples, particulary in the Far East. Even many American Indian nations believed in the continuity of life. For example, Charles Eastman, whose Indian name whas Ohiyesa, wrote in his book, The Soul of the Indian, "Many of the (American) Indians believed that some may be born more than once, and there were some who claimed to have full knowlegdge of a former incarnation."Back to the Index
As souls living through the eons of time, we have been in different places, lived diverse lifestyles and done all things imaginable. We are given many lives through which to learn, because with the gift of free will comes the right to make mistakes. Often we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes; thus we can grow and evolve to a point where the original error is no longer important. The lesson learned is what is valuable - that is what survives forever in our deeper memories.
One who seems blessed in the present may have experienced terrible trials and ordeals in the past. One who currently suffers humility and hardship may have abused power in the past, and perhaps he or she will yet be great or influential in the future, after learning to use knowledge and power constructively.
Past-life reseach has revealed ordinary people who have lived extraordinary lives, and extraordinary people who have life ordinary lives. There is in every one of us a sinner and a saint. The secret is to accent the positive and build character to overcome the dark side, or what Carl Jung called the "shadow." Gibran describes our greater self and lesser self in The Prophet:
"Even like the sun is your God-self; It knows not the ways of the mole, nor seeks in the holes of the serpent. But your God-self dwells not alone in your being. Much of you is still man, and much in you is not yet man, but a shapeless pygmy that walks alseep in the mists searching for its own awakening...the erect and the fallen are but one man standing in the twilight between the night of his pygmy-self and the day of his God-self."
Yes, we are all interconnected in our evolving humanity. Every possible human trait can be found within each person. And the reason for having many lifetimes is to grow, to experience and to forgive, Through the wisdom gained in lietimes, people find it easier to forgive others their faults and to release the injuries suffered at the hands of others. Realize, for example, that after a man who is guilty of murder has paid that penalty extracted from him by society, people still remember him for the crime. Or a woman who was an unfaithful wife - no matter how faithful she has become, gossips will continue to judge her harshly. Gibran cautions that it will be difficult to grasp the following truth, but it is a profound revelation of balance and counterbalance: "The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder, and the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.
If any of you would bring to judgement the unaithful wife, let him also weigh the heart of her husband in scales, and measure his soul with measurements."
The journey through life, or lifetimes, is truly a journey within, a meandering deep into one's being. Sometimes paths separate, sometimes they blend. The link of lives comes together and then moves apart, but through it all we progress and grow.Back to the Index
The continuity of life is a natural progression, a returning again and again. As each lifetime progresses into the next, talents are developed, lessons learned, choices made - some good, some less good - debts paid and healing obtained. For everything there is a balance and a counterbalance. This is not punishment; it is more akin to paying the debts one has previously incurred. Even death does not erase the record of any deed, whether good or evil. Each soul is the keeper of its own memory; its debts and credits are stored deep within.
Thus, we need to focus on what we are striving to build in this life. Everyone has goals; goals are what we are seeking. But underlying the goal is the motivation which is the ideal. The ideal is why we want something. Ideals are the central motivating forces of our lives, our vision of the self that surpasses the ordinary self. Ideals comprise the pattern of excellence, one's highest purpose.
Edgar Cayce, the famous "Sleeping Prophet" of Virginia Beach, Virginia, explained the concept in these words: "We would maximize the virtues and minimize the faults." This does not imply that we should look only for the good, while pretending the faults are absent, but rather we should focus more fully on the positive that it may grow even more. The ideal is the conception of you in your perfection.
In The Prophet, Gibran delivers the same concept: "Of the good in you I speak, but not of the evil. You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps. You are not evil when you go limping. Even those who limp do not go backward. In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness; and that longin is in all of you."
He also suggests the importance of an ideal, which he likens to the rudder of a ship that keeps your life "on course."Back to the Index
The greatest discovery of our time is that all pathways, all minds, are interconnected. At the mind or soul level, all people everywhere are connected with one another, and all are similarly connected with God. Gibran realized this, and explained it in a personal letter:
"Yes talking by wireless over long distances is indeed mighty. It is an enlargement of the soul of man. But man has always talked by wireless - a different wireless which transferred all the real messages from one part of the Earth to another. And the subconsciousness of man always acted according to these messages. A world-deed that happended in India became known to the soul of the Egyptians. And what the soul knows is often unknown to the man who has a soul. We are infinitely more than we think."
Every mind is like a time capsule. The immense popularity of past-life regression results from people's discovery that important new answers can be found to ancient queries, as Gibran so gently explained:
"Your thoughts and my words are waves from a sealed memory that keeps records of your yesterdays. And of the ancient days when the earth knew not us nor herself"Back to the Index
Perhaps Gibran's greatest gift as a writer was the use of metaphor. In The Garden of the Prophet, Almustafa is preparing for his departure and speaks to his close followers:
"My comrades and my road-fellows, we must needs part this day. Long have we sailed on the perilous seas, and we have climbed the steepest mountains and we have wrestled with the storms. We have known hunger, but we have also sat at wedding feasts, Oftentimes have we been naked, but we have also worn kingly raiment. We have indeed traveled far, but now we part. Together you shall go your way, and alone must I go mine."
His metaphor for the journey of life was gentle, yet strong. Just before Almustafa leaves the garden he says:
"And remember this of me: I teach you not giving, but receiving; not denial, but fulfillment; and not yielding, but understanding, with the smile upon the lips. I teach you not silence, but rather a song not over-loud. I teach you your larger self, which contains all men."
Then, when the followers have parted, he speaks privately to one woman. Here he gives what I feel is the greatest hope and promise - even the procedure - to communicate with him after his passing:
"I go but if I go with a truth not yet voiced, that very truth will again seek me and gather me, though my elements be scattered throughout the silences of eternity, and again shall I come before you that I may speak with a voice born anew out of the heart of those boundless silences. And if there be aught of beauty that I have declared not unto you, then once again shall I be called, ay, even by mine own name, Almustafa, and I shall give you a sign, that you may know I have come back to speak all that is lacking, for God will not suffer Himself to be hidden from man, nor his word to lie covered in the abyss of the heart of man."
Here Gibran clearly states through this personal communication with Karima the possibility of spiritual communication. He did not offer this wisdom to the many; no, there could be misuse. But those who can gain and learn and grow, he tells simply, in essence, "call me by mine own name." He said he would give a sign so that the person receinving would know for sure he had come back to communicate.
Parable and metaphor are not experience themselves; rather, they provide a connection between a new concept and something one has previously experienced. Learning comes in discovering how something new relates to something people already comprehend. Gibran, like Jesus whom he loved so fully, was a master of the use of parable to broaden humanity's vision, helping make known the unknown. The greatest truths are most easily conveyed in the simplest stories.Back to the Index
There is so much to share of this amazing Builder for a Better World, Kahlil Gibran. He was a man outside of time an place who lived much of his life in Boston and New York City, yet always longed to return to his native Lebanon. Only after his death on April 10, 1931, was his body returned to his beloved homeland, Bsherri, Lebanon, where he had been born 48 years earlier.
Many titles have been given to Gibran, and they are probably all correct, for he was a versatile man: poet, artist, philosopher, peacemaker, visionary, revolutionary, madman, brother, friend. To me, Gibran was, above all else, a great teacher, not in the academic sence, but in the larger meaning - a teacher in the school of life. He reminded us often that all knowlegde is within. "Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge."
Some academic minds fail to comprehend Gibran, for his teachings go beyond mere scholarship into the larger realities of new sciences. This advanced concept becomes clear as The Prophet speaks of Teaching; "No man can reveal to you aught but that which lies half asleep in the dawning of your own knowledge. The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom, but rather of his faith and lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind."
If there is one sentence Gibran spoke that best summarizes his pholosophy, it is this: "Create beauty and let every other thing to to hell." This suggests that if people everywhere focused more on creating and building beauty, that would automatically counter balance the foolishness and ugliness in the world. Science and religion profess to be the answers for humanity - but he spoke with indignation against the unspeakable stupidities committed in the name of science and religion: "There is neither religion nor science beyond beauty."
When asked about religion, he said, "Religion? What is it? I know of only life. The church is within you. I lay down no rules of conduct. Do whatsoever you will, so long as you do it beautifully."
And so Kahlil lived his philosophy to the fullest, as an artist, poet and woodcarver, and he lived a spiritual life, though not necessarily a religious one. One can be spiritual and not be religious, just as one can be religious and not be spiritually motivated.
He prayed often, and began each new notebook with a written prayer. For example: "Help us O Lord, to write Thy truth enfolded by Thy beauty in this book." The saw perfection as a limitation; he also saw a great need for humanity's spiritual healing as seen in this quote from Beloved Prophet: "This country needs hundreds of soul doctors." In modern times, these soul doctors of whom he speaks are known as past-life regressionists, soul therapists.
The love in Gibran's soul for humanity was great. He demonstrated this through his writings, his art and even more clearly through his daily life. For many years his studio was a mecca for seeking people to come and share, to ask and learn. In The Garden of The Prophet, Gibran reminds us of the greatest spiritual teachings: that all people everywhere are connected and are linked in subtle but real ways, reminding us that "the saint and the sinner are twin brothers." and that within each person is the potential for wrong as well as for good.
"To be robbed, cheated, deceived, ay, misled and trapped and then mocked, yet with it all to look down from the height of your large self and smile, knowing thet there is a spring that will come to your garden in your leaves and an autumn to ripen your grapes; knowing that if but one of your windows is open to the east, you shall never be empty; knowing that all those deemed wrongdoers and robbers, cheaters and deceivers are your brothers in need, and that your are perchance all of these in the eyes of the blessed inhabitants of that City Invisible, above this city."
Two other themes are reiterated in Almustafa's philosophy - to be our very best and to appreciate beauty:
"My comrades and my beloved, be bold and not meek; be spacious and not confined; and until my final hour and yours be indeed your greater self. To follow Beauty even when she shall lead you to the verge of the precipice; and though she is winged an you are wingless, an though she shall pass beyond the verge, follow her, for where Beauty is not, there is nothing."
A novel approach in Gibran's philosophy is that it is often harder to receive than it is to give. He offered ancient wisdom and spiritual treasures, but few would receive these greatest of gifts.
"And Almustafa cried out in the aloneness of his spirit and he said, 'Heavy-laden is my soul with her own ripe fruit. Who is there would come and take and be satisfied? My soul is running over with the wine of the ages. Is there no thirsty one to come and drink? Behold there was a man standing at the crossroads with hands stretched forth unto the passers-by, saying, 'Pity me and take from me. In God's name, take out of my hands and console me.' But the passers-by only looked upon him, and none took out of his hand. Would rather that he were a beggar stretching forth his hand to receive - than to stretch it forth full of rich gifts and find none to receive.' Garden of The Prophet
It was a pleasure for Gibran to plant these seeds of wisdom in the consciousness of mankind. It is also wonderful to feel those seeds of truth growing inside oneself, appreciating why he took such pleasure in giving. Anyone who has ever studied the works of Gibran probably has a favorite parable or teaching. Personally, I have several. He left me realizing that all of those times when we thought we were running from life, we were only running toward it!Back to the Index