Ours is, most unfortunately, the world of merciless conflicts in every sphere of human habitat and environment. The biggest example of this phenomenon is having armies, police, courts of law, prisons and the infrastructure related therewith, like arsenal, etc., that not only consume one-third to half of the world production; and which not only dominate the rest but are also the source of the grave threat to annihilate it as well.
We are under clutches of a war-mechanism from which we have no escape.
We have to fight in it the way we can; and we have chosen to try our best to fight against these devastating circumstances of the current world.
Our weapon is literature. And our first operation starts with this work. Its commander-in-chief is Kahlil Gibran.
Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931) became and remains the beloved writer of hundreds of millions of people the world-over, and not without reason.
For the better understanding and enjoyment of the works of Kahlil Gibran, little bit of the history of evolution of human thought in necessary.
The idea or theory of rebirth is ancient and it might have been derived from the common observation of nature: Day being followed by night, and vice versa; sun disappearing and reappearing; the cyclical nature of seasons; the appearance of foliage on trees and plants and the shedding thereof in autumn…
Buddha at the time of his death consoled the inconsolable Ananda, “No, Ananda, don't weep. Haven't I already told you that separation is inevitable from all near and dear to us? Whatever is born, produced, conditioned, contains within itself the nature of its own dissolution. It cannot be otherwise.” Let us repeat it: “Whatever is born, produced, conditioned, contains within itself the nature of its own dissolution. It cannot be otherwise.”
It was Anaxagoras (BCE 500–428) who announced that “In the physical world, everything contains a portion of everything else.” for example, “The food that an animal eats turns into bone, hair, flesh, and so forth; it must, therefore, already contain all of those constituents within it.” It will also be relevant here to say that death penalty was announced for Anaxagoras by the court of Athens for he said the sun was a fiery rock, which was against the notion held by religion; Anaxagoras, however, escaped by leaving Athens forever.
The concept of reality or unreality went through several phases of development and reached to several benchmarks after different intervals of time. One of such benchmarks relevant here is the one reached in Shankaracharya, who held everything for a mirage (Maya) for nothing being permanent; and Sufism (mysticism) went ahead to proclaim its concepts of wahdat al wajoud (unity of existence) and wahdat ash shahoud (unity of witness) as well as the concepts of “Barzakh” (the station where souls dwell before they descend onto the earth); “Airaf” (the station where souls go after they exit from the earth); Sabita, Aiyan, Joya (the three spiritual stages according to Sufism) and a wide range of other concepts.
This stream of thought reached its ultimate destination up to the present time in Hegel’s dialectics (i.e. the concept of fleeting reality—instead of the debate about the concepts of reality or unreality), the demonstrations of which in literature are the works of Kahlil Gibran.
Four of the basic tenets of dialectics (as I have understood them) need to be mentioned here.
1. Everything existing—from the smallest particle to the entire universe—has limits. The day, seasons, life-span, epochs, earth, solar system, Milky Way, observable or unobservable Universe… everything has physical and temporal limits.
2. The limited is composed of the unlimited; and unlimited is made of the limited. For example, there are infinite points in any particular section of a number line; and the number of grains of sand in the Sahara desert and all deserts of the world are countable. It is essential to point out here that infinite is not just one infinite, there are infinite infinites. For instance the infinite points between one and two and the infinite points between three and four are different.
3. All things (pleasure, pain, friendship, enmity, life, work, contribution, human relations…) are relevant but within their own boundaries and limits; beyond those boundaries everything loses its relevance and meaning. These limits can be physical (you can’t expect a lion to come to your home and have dinner with you in New York or Karachi) or temporal (you can’t expect to experience the chill of winter in the summer months).
4. A continuous development of any phenomenon in one direction changes into its opposite at a certain stage. For example, the day changes into night and the night into day. Competition leads to monopoly and monopoly to competition. “Democracy” changes to “dictatorship” and vice versa. The spring season changes to autumn and vice versa…
Other tenets and the three laws of dialectics are beyond the scope of this Foreword.
With this preliminary understanding about the concepts of rebirth, organization and dissolution of things born…, everything contains a portion of everything, mirage (Maya), Sufi (mystic) concepts and the above tenets of dialectics; you can now fully enjoy your association with the genius of Kahlil Gibran.
We have not incorporated the paintings of Kahlil Gibran in these textual works here just because the level of culture in India, Pakistan and Nepal is still embarrassing, even though people go to hospitals, get themselves checked up in gynecology department, get surgeries done, undress completely and entrust their naked bodies into the hands of the surgeons, their associates and others, and even though Mahavir Jain, Laleshwori, and a wide range of other people didn’t wear any clothes, and people held them in the highest esteem.
To avoid such “embarrassment” to any reader, we decided not to incorporate the painting in these works. The readers that wish to see those paintings are free to visit:
Without any further delay, let us we start our march. Hope you enjoy and benefit from these works!
Kahlil Gibran’s Works–Introduction to Our Translation of