My Soul Counseled Me
By Gibran Khalil Gibran
My soul spoke to me and counseled me to love all that others hate,
And to befriend those whom others defame.
My soul counseled me and revealed unto me that love dignifies not alone the one who loves, but also the beloved.
Unto that day love was for me a thread of cobweb between two flowers, close to one another;
But now it has become a halo with neither beginning nor end,
Encircling all that has been, and waxing eternally to embrace all that shall be.
My soul counseled me and taught me to see beauty veiled by form and color.
My soul charged me to gaze steadfastly upon all that is deemed ugly until it appears lovely
Before my soul had thus charged and counseled me, I had seemed to see beauty like unto wavering torches between pillars of smoke;
But now the smoke has dispersed and vanished and I see naught but the burning.
My soul counseled me and charged me to listen for voices that rise neither from the tongue nor the throat.
Before that day I heard but dully, and naught save clamor and loud cries came to my ears;
But now I have learned to listen to silence,
To hear its choirs singing the songs of ages,
Chanting the hymns of space, and disclosing the secrets of eternity.
My soul spoke to me and counseled me to quench my thirst with that wine which may not be poured into cups,
Nor lifted by hands, nor touched by lips.
Unto that day my thirst was like a dim spark laid in ashes
To be put out by a drought from any spring;
But now my strong yearning has become my cup,
Love has become my wine, and loneliness my joy.
My soul counseled me and charged me to seek that which is unseen;
And my soul revealed unto me that the thing we grasp is the thing we desire.
In other days I was content with warmth in winter, and with a cooling zephyr in the summer season;
But now my fingers are become as mist,
Letting fall all that they have held, to mingle with the unseen that I now desire.
My soul spoke to me and invited me to breathe the fragrance from a plant
That has neither root nor stalk nor blossom, and that no eye has seen.
Before my soul counseled me thus, I sought perfumes in the gardens,
In jars of sweet-smelling herbs and vessels of incense;
But now I am aware only of an incense that may not be burned,
I breathe an air more fragrant than all earth’s gardens and all the winds of space.
My soul counseled me and charged me to answer and say: “I follow,” when the unknown and the adventurous call unto me.
Hitherto I had answered naught but the voice of the crier in the market place,
Nor did I pursue aught save roads charted and well trodden;
But now the known has become a steed that I mount to seek the unknown,
And the road has become a ladder by which I may climb to the perilous summit.
My soul counseled me and admonished me to measure time with this saying:
“There was a yesterday and there shall be a tomorrow.”
Unto that hour I deemed the past an epoch that is lost and shall be forgotten,
And the future I deemed an era that I may not attain;
But now I have learned this:
That in the brief present all time, with all that is in time,
Is achieved and come true.
My soul spoke and revealed unto me that I am not bound in space by the words:
“Here, there, and over there.”
Hitherto I stood upon my hill, and every other hill seemed distant and far away;
But now I know that the hill whereon I dwell is indeed all hills,
And the valley whereunto I descend comprehends all valleys.
My soul counseled me and besought me to watch while others sleep
And to seek my pillow while they are wakeful,
For in all my years I had not perceived their dreams, nor they mine.
But now I am winged by day in my dreaming,
And when they sleep I behold them free upon the night,
And I rejoice in their freedom.
My soul counseled me and charged me lest I be exalted because of over praise
And lest I distressed for fear of blame.
Until that day I doubted the work of my own handiwork;
But now I have learned this:
That the trees blossom in spring, and bear fruit in summer,
And drop their leaves in autumn to become utterly naked in winter
Without exaltation and without fear or shame.
My soul counseled me and assured me
That I am neither higher than the pygmy nor lower than the giant.
Before that day I beheld mankind as two men,
The one a weakling whom I derided or pitied,
And the other a mighty man whom I would either follow, or oppose in rebellion.
But now I know that I was formed even from the same dust of which all men are created,
That my elements are their elements, and my inner self is their inner self.
My struggle is their struggle, and their pilgrimage is mine own.
If they transgress, I am also the transgressor,
And if they do well, then I have a share in their well-doing.
If they arise, I too arise with them; if they stay behind, I also, to company them.
My soul counseled me and instructed me to see that the light which I carry is not my light,
That my song was not created within me;
For though I travel with the light, I am not the light,
And though I am a lute fastened with strings,
I am not the lute-player.
My soul counseled me, my brother, and enlightened me.
And oftentimes has your soul counseled and enlightened you.
For you are like me, and there is no difference between us
Save that I speak of what is within me in words that I have heard in my silence,
And you guard what is within you, and your guardianship is as goodly as my much speaking.