Kahlil Gibran On Death – The Poem
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Khalil in this beautiful poem talks about death and how you cannot know it without living first. This reminds me of how people slog away at jobs they truly despise to buy things they don’t actually want but society tells them they should obtain. Are they really living? Maybe this is why so many fear death, because they know deep down they have not truly lived. They let themselves get talked into careers that pay well but do not suit them. They bought houses they cannot afford that now act as chains that shackle them because they wanted status. Maybe it is their conscious that makes them fear death. They might have made many mistakes in the past and hurt people. Their heart aches at the thought of dying before making things right. Though you cannot fix all the past wrongs, you can start today and live righteously. Do what feels right to you.
But the even more interesting part is that people, in this fear of death, forget to live and appreciate the moment. They forget the small things that make life beautiful. Would you trade your eyesight for a Lamborghini? Your sense of smell for a massive garden? Then are you not truly rich as you are? It is not a bad thing to have goals and ambition. But to forget what makes life truly beautiful in pursuit of these riches is not a life worth living. Do not live in the past because it is like playing in ashes. Do not fear the future for it is like waiting for a fire that might never come. Live in the warmth of today, find things you can do today and keep yourself busy. Laziness is the fastest way to a tormented soul, because it is in lethargy when dark thoughts take control. Would you think of a broken relationship when you are biking down a beautiful trail? Or previous failures when you are making something happen today? Make today count.
Maybe there is nothing more after this life, no one knows for sure no matter how strong their conviction. If that thought frightens you then let it frighten you in a good way. Let it frighten you in such a way that makes you take action. Let the fear make you grateful for the time you do have and do not squander it with wasteful thoughts and petty status. Accept that death is imminent and you will find how a lot of your troubles will feel so insignificant.
If you would like to read more of Khalil Gibran, I highly recommend the book: The Prophet. With that I end my thoughts on this beautiful poem.