يقدم الأديب والشاعر والمفكر المهجري الدكتور جميل ميلاد الدويهي رائعة أعماله "في معبد الروح" باللغة الإنكليزية كاملة. وقد أحدث "في معبد الروح" ضجة فكرية وأدبية، ونشر عنه كتاب بعنوان "كتبوا في معبد الروح"، ما حدا ببعض الطارئين على الأدب إلى نفي صفة "المفكر" عن الدويهي "مع أنه موجود"، وذلك ردّاً مباشراً على الإبداع الحقيقي.

والغرض من النشر بالإنكليزية هو إيصال فكر الدويهي الذي يتخذ من المحبة والسلام وتوحيد الإنسانية أقانيم لأدبه الراقي، ونقل صورة حية عن أدبنا المهجري إلى العالم.

كتاب "في معبد الروح" صدر عام 2015، ونشره الدويهي بالانكليزية عام 2016 إلى جانب 3 أعمال أدبية أخرى، أطلقها في مهرجان الأدب المهجري الراقي 2 في مدينة سيدني، وقدمها هدايا مجانية إلى الجمهور الحاشد.

. جميع الحقوق محفوظة.

 مشروع أفكار اغترابية هو مشروع شخصي لا علاقة لأي مؤسسة أو أي جمعية به . يقوم المشروع على إصدارات نوعية متواصلة للدويهي وعلى محبة الناس وتقديرهم. 

 

1- My Picture in the Temple

I used to sit in the Temple of the Soul, where I was visited by farmers, woodchoppers, packers and hardworking women from all the villages located behind the highlands. A prayer and a song were on my lips, and on my head set the whiteness of the spirits that dwelt in the highest mountains, where the snow fell abundantly to cover everything and erase the darkness of the walls and sidewalks. In this region, the ancestors had engaged in wars. They killed each other with bayonets, axes and spears, and each of them claimed that God is one of his followers and his tribe's supporter. On the stones, the blood seeped, and over the fields, the banners of death rose. The wailing of women mingled with the screaming of children and the neighing of horses. The elderly carried their murdered young on the backs of their bulls to bury them between the adjacent buildings, as no more places remained for the corpses that were falling like autumn leaves.

In the evening, I watched the sun shed its rose-colored robe to rest a little in the water, just for a while before a new morning would dawn. The sun is a gift that God granted humans, but they did not manage to destroy it. The sun is a sacred icon that the Creator spent much time on before displaying it on the canvas of the blue sky as a masterpiece of gold and fire. When the sun descends into the water with sedate steps, it knows that humans await its rising again at a certain hour so that they may awaken from their sleep of despair and proceed with their lives. And even though they chase illusions and nonsense, the sun illuminates their path, laughs at their simplicity, and says to itself, “People are a cult of the worst angels.”

My temple has survived the harshness of conflicts, for I offered the bread of life to the fighters indiscriminately. They came to me in a hurry with blood covering their clothes and the smell of smoke emanating from their bodies. Some of them shouted and boasted after having killed a woman or destroyed a house over the heads of its settlers, and they eagerly asked me, “Do you have bread for us on this day?”

I always replied, “This is my bread that is given to the sinners, for sins are not the end, just as birth is not the beginning. O children, life invites you to its temple to eat and drink peacefully, and God who gave you the weapon of evil also offered you the good. Very soon, you will discover the good in yourselves. Hence, you will hate your ancient souls, and you will be looking for new homes and temples that stand firmly against violent storms. Yes, dear children, the war distanced you from your wives and holy sacraments. You thought that you could quench the thirst that gripped your body with blood. Instead, your thirst grew more intense. For this reason, I invite you to my banquet, a banquet of bread and water, a banquet of elating peace that elevates you with divine wings toward a sky that cannot be envisioned by artists and poets. The spirit is not in your bodies and temples, but it extends to the farthest horizons. The spirit cannot be seen in your depths only, but is in fact a large tree on which the swing of all seasons hangs. How many things appear differently from what they really are! We see things falsely because we grew accustomed to viewing them in the wrong way without staring at the truth, and the truth is that we look without our eyes and hear without our ears.”

I have forgiven the sins of many people, and I have to forgive more of them in the days and years to come, for sins are not confined to a certain time and place. In fact, sins live continually, and God created us with desires that cannot be resisted by the weak, but by the strong so that the strong shall become sanctified by the goodwill that gave birth to them and purified them in its fire. They say in the neighboring villages that I bear the sins of humanity while my sins are plentiful. They ask how I forgive the tyrants, murderers and gravediggers, and they wonder who appointed me to this mission that I have dedicated my life to accomplish. People do not know that one is born with sins in his heart and that sins do not flourish during life on their own. Sins are like the fragrance that is hidden in the flower, the scent of which spreads into the luminous atmosphere when the breeze blows. Every sin is a birth, albeit a difficult birth. From its arduous core emerged the thousands of heads and bare feet that struggle in the dust of the ages. I am not afraid of forgiveness, for tolerance is the lantern of knowledge. Those who do not forgive are unable to walk toward the sun which calls them to approach it, and they choose instead the eternal darkness and bleakness of absurdity. May the Lord forgive me for what I've done, for He created the innocence in my heart and the virtues that made me a priest in the Temple of the Soul. I will not leave this place until every lamp brightens and no dawn remains hidden under a bushel.

 

2- The Stranger and God's Nature

One day, a stranger entered my temple and began begging me for food and drink. After I offered these to him, I asked about his name, village and line of work. Following a long conversation, he told me that he was looking for God but that he had failed to find Him in any place. He then said, “I have read Goethe, Nietzsche, Gibran and Tagore, but I could not find reality. Meanwhile, I perceive that which people say about God as ancient pottery in a museum. Hence, those who claim that the nature of God is unknown are right.”

I said to the man, “It is true, but God exists in you, in me and in everyone, so why are you looking for Him when you can touch Him with your hands?”

The man stared at me and asked, “Do you believe that Man and God are one?”

I replied, “If I were to say that, I would not be adding anything to reality, for many people have stated that Man and God are unified. Those who claimed this made their ego and desire for pride a mirror of their Creator. But God is not a physical creature like you and I, or like this high hill on which the flocks roam. He is entirety and the light of the light. You only see a part of Him in the objects that surround you. Everything is an element of infinite God. Some philosophers were confused while trying to shorten their route and wanted to see God as void, but they failed to erase Him from consciences, hearts and history. The main issue is that the Creator cannot be physical like the created, and so, you must examine the created to incompletely discover the Creator. Still, this sketchy knowledge is sufficient to make you believe in your nobility and value.”

The man insisted that he needed to understand God completely.

I explained, “This is an illusion, my son, for your knowledge is very limited and your understanding is smaller than a tiny drop of water in a large sea. Your mind is arrogant when it deludes you with its ability to discover, and you become trapped in arrogance too. In order to discover God, you should humble yourself and admire the wisdom which you cannot explain. What do you know about the sea and its secrets? What do you know about the universe and its limitless extents? What do you know about the color of your eyes without using a mirror? The mirror itself is less valuable than the eye, but it is beneficial to you. On the other hand, the mirror can show you illusory things, so you should look at it with caution.”

The man said, “The mirror has no guilt, but I am the guilty one because I wish to see the unseen and I see the contrary of what I want to see.”

I replied, “You are right. You have begun to understand what I am saying. It is not important to know who is responsible for the false reality. However, it is important for Man to deny some objects that he sees, for the eye could lead you into temptation.”

The strange man questioned, “Is it for this reason that Divine Law instructs you to gouge your eye out if it leads you to sin?”

I responded, “The Law does not specify things this precisely. Thus, you should avoid being trapped in the wrong understanding. Many texts cannot be explained without deep wisdom and profound reflection. This also applies to understanding the nature of God, for God cannot be seen in person, but in essence. You should train your eyes to see beyond the material world. Teach yourself to hear the voices that exist in the silence, to read the writing that is written by the emptiness of pages, and to notice the light which appears after the darkness. When this stage of vigilance is achieved, you will assuredly reach the reality which you seek.”

The stranger proclaimed, “I now understand what you mean, O priest. I should close my eyes to see God in my heart, without allowing any external influences to disable my senses and make me confused and anxious so that when I open my eyes, I will not see false views that could mislead my sight and lead me into deception.”

I concluded by saying, “I will give you a book entitled The False Reality to read profoundly. You will discover that the reality which is observed by the majority of people is nothing but successive lies created throughout the centuries. These untrue tales were heard and embraced without thought by Man. All the aspects of bloody wars that you see before you are the result of the conflict over the nature of God and the desire of every religion to keep God for itself and defend Him. These notions are some of the many lies that were inherited through the generations and which cause conflicts. Graves were filled with the living, and the dead continued to embrace injustice. And so, the graves mocked their stupidity, and life ridiculed the living dead. What is God? He is the love which exists in both of us, but we have allowed hatred to dominate our hearts. Consequently, love has become a cold corpse on the altar of personal desires.”

The stranger shook his head without speaking another word. He was looking at me from head to toe and admiring my thoughts. After a while, he thanked me and carried his backpack to return to his village. He said, “I promise you, O priest in the Soul's Temple, I will understand God. I will know Him only when I close my eyes and open my heart to the lights of the sky.”

 

3- Just and Unjust

I heard two men arguing under an old tree that was situated outside the temple. Soon after, the men began striking one another. Each was saying to his opponent, “You are wrong and I am right.” I rushed to calm them with subtle words and tried to find out the reason behind their argument. They told me that they were brothers and that their father had left to the eldest son, a bull, and to the youngest one, a milk cow. The bull and cow mated, and the cow gave birth to a calf. Since then, the two brothers had been arguing over the ownership of the calf. I asked the younger son why he believed that the calf was his. He quickly answered, “My cow gave birth to the calf and is taking care of and nourishing it with its milk, while the bull does not do anything for the calf.” I asked the man’s brother the same question. He maintained that the bull is the male and accordingly, has more right than the female to have possession of the offspring.

I laughed at their rationale and explained that these rules which were written by Man cannot provide proper judgment in such a case, for Man commits mistakes, whereas Divine wisdom does not. I went on to explain, “Look at the conflicts and revolutions that erupt in the world. Is not everybody claiming to be right and that others are wrong? Also, look at the disputes between a husband and his wife, a daughter and her brother, an old woman and her daughter-in-law. Is not each of them asserting that he is right and that the views of the other are false? What some people perceive as correct can be incorrect, and vice versa.”

The two brothers asked me about what they should do and if they should seek advice from a wisdom which does not exist.

I responded, “Who told you that this wisdom does not exist? Tolerate each other with your hearts full of love and forgiveness, and you will find that the righteous judge will rule justly, and you will hear his loud voice. Wisdom exists in all of the universe's elements, in the storm and in the calmness, in the cruel sea and in the quiet lake, in the silence and in the noise, in the wind, the sun and in the deep valleys. Wisdom cannot be fully discovered but must be walked toward slowly. It is not too distant from you.”

The younger brother said to me, “We did not hear what you spoke of in the past. Would you please describe wisdom?”

I explained, “Wisdom is the woman who gave you life, who walked with you and protected you during your journey. If you neglect your wisdom, you do so because you are unable to break through the thin veils that separate you from reaching knowledge. You are in need of light while the sun is shining in the sky, and you are in need of sight though your eyes see clearly.”

“Is wisdom an outcome of the brain or of the heart?” asked the young men.

I responded, “Good on you, innocent men. Wisdom is an outcome of both the brain and the heart, for the heart is not unable to understand but requires the light of the brain, while the brain does not proceed but on the path of the heart.”

“But our father taught us that the heart is the engine of emotions, feelings, beliefs and anger, and that the mind is the engine of knowledge and learning,” the young men added.

I replied, “You are right, but one of the two engines does not work without the other. The evidence is clear and doubtless. If a sick man’s heart were to be disposed and replaced with a heart made of steel, would this man lose his emotions toward his children and grandchildren? Would his emotions die or change? Would he lose his belief in God? Would he free himself from anger and excitement? Human wisdom is comprised of a combination of heart and brain, and you are capable of merging them into one machine that leads you closer to virtue and peace.”

The older brother contemplated and regretfully said, “If people relied on wisdom, they could have saved themselves from the horrible atrocities and blood streams that flowed during the centuries. If people sought advice from their hearts and minds, they could have delivered their children from the heritage of death and loss.”

He then looked at me and at his younger brother and said to him, “Forgive me, brother, for what I did. I used to believe that the rules which were made by Man rendered me right, and you, wrong.”

The younger brother said sadly, “I also used to believe that those rules made you judge unfairly and avoid righteousness.”

With gladness, I asked the two men, “Has God lead you to the wisdom that rules with fairness?”

The older brother replied, “Yes, O Revered Father. Wisdom prescribes that my young brother is the one who shall have ownership of the calf, for he is younger than me and does not possess a large amount of money, while I have several properties and fruitful lands.”

Then, he tenderly looked at his younger brother and said, “Yes, my brother, the calf is yours, not mine.”

The younger brother responded joyfully, “Thank you for your righteous wisdom, but I see that the calf is yours because you need it for your land. I do not own several lands, and I can wait until the cow gives birth to another calf to claim for myself.”

4- What is Time?

Time is the beginning that does not commence and does not stop. The hasty and the laggard both achieve their wishes. Look at the fierce waves. They scatter before they reach the shore and splash their foam onto the near and distant rocks, as do the soft and slow waves when they calmly flow until they hug the sand and embrace their fate with love and desire. Those who walk swiftly toward the end may not enjoy their lives, for death may surprise them and snatch them earlier. The steady ones may enjoy everything around them, knowing that when they die, their eyes and hearts shall be content with life.

Time, O people, is the boat which sails with us. Neither do we fear the voyage, nor does the boat tire of sailing. Some of the hurried passengers want to arrive on time, while others do not care when they arrive. Those who look at their watches know that every passing minute is a chunk of pure gold thrown into a pile of garbage. The wind does not ask for precise timing or for land to rest upon. Hence, do not expect time to walk with you toward the future. It is better that you walk agreeably with time. Do not look at the past, as you have been walking backward since you were born. If they ask you when you were born, say, “We were born and we live in all times, and our time of birth is not separated from our time of death.” Is it possible that a person is born without knowing that another person has died in the same instant? Is it possible that a man feels joy without knowing that some other men endure sadness? Is it possible that a man lives without knowing that death awaits him at an uncertain time? If people ask you about when you are going to die, reply, “We will die in time and in the winter that breaks the trees and denudes the hills. In every death we come across, there is a birth.”

People greet time with fine clothing and attend the feasts wearing jewelry on their necks, but all of this does not make them rich. How many people wear expensive clothes, own gold and silver, and raise their house arches to touch the clouds, while their souls are full of evil and hatred? How many people struggle to sit in the temples' front rows, while darkness reigns over their hearts? I have seen religious leaders disregard the weak, just after showing their love to the rich who shower them with gifts and control their minds, in order to altogether form one circle, which poor people are prohibited from entering. All these arrogant people are in reality the miserable ones who ignore the fact that the human being is a value, not an item that can be bought and sold. How ugly would I be if I visited rich people in the feast night and felt ashamed of visiting a poor woman who does not own but a dull chair to sit on?

Wealth does not change anything in the nature of Man, but Man's nature desires, for Man fears dying with empty pockets, as if time adheres only to his wishes and demands. Truly, I say that time is innocent and asks for innocence. It is silent and seeks silence and contemplation. Humans chose from the beginning of the ages to be slaves of time, rather than be its masters. Their hands extend to the ancient notebooks to capture moments of grief and joy, whereas elements of the universe do not. How wonderful would it be if our celebrations came to us unexpectedly so that we would not need to prepare food, drink or clothing? When the feast knocks on our doors and sees us wearing humble clothing and having only small lanterns to light the corners of our homes, it delights with us more than it delights in rich banquets and shiny gifts. Feasts do not ride fancy cars, do not enjoy the theater, and do not distinguish between onyx and pebbles. The clothes which we strive to own are peels that cover our bodies, but not our souls. We, in our clothing, resemble the truth that hides under the autumn leaves. How glorious is the bare truth that shines under the sun and is cleansed by the rain's tears!

 

5- The Value of Love

On the feast day and after the war had ended, the people gathered in the temple. There, I delivered a speech about the nature of love in which I said the following:

“Love is the fire that erupts in the wood of your hearts, turning it into an eternal flame. Love was originally offered by God to Man. Man may love God in many instances but may not love Him at times. Man may also pretend to love God, but God knows who loves Him and who does not. Despite this, He still looks with tenderness and compassion at the one who does not love Him. Still, it is rare that people love each other, and anyone who claims to only love God has false love, for love should be given to God, to creatures, and to the universe as well. God gives you freedom, and with freedom, the Creator and you may live together in harmony, with your love converting to worship.

Some men love one woman. Their love is honest and profound. Others love many women. Their love is not untrue because the man who loves is better than the man who hates. But never stone a woman for having loved many men, for she also did not hate, and you should not discriminate between male and female, just as God does not discriminate... If one of you were to ask me about self-admiration, I would tell him that the admiration of one’s self is natural. It is due to this that Man fears agony, suffering and death, but love should not be hemmed in the self only. When you restrict your love to yourselves and to your close ones, your love becomes self-serving. In line with this, a father loves his children because they come to life from his flesh and blood; a man loves his wife, for she is his other half; a farmer loves his field for it provides him with food; and the fisherman loves the ocean as it gives him generously. But in spite of this interest, love elevates you from being human to being in the rank of the angels. And how beautiful would it be to love without benefit! By doing so, your souls will hover in the highest skies like the perfume of spring, and your lives will be renewed in the baptism of love...

It is one of the worst kinds of love when religious leaders show their love to those who have riches and wealth. This love hurts the poor who do not own anything to give. How far are these leaders from understanding the parable of “The Widow’s Offering” that is given to us by Divine wisdom? What would happen if God created only poor people with no rich among them? Would religions then be void? Would the temples collapse and turn into dust? No, my brothers, wealth does not add one copper coin to the Kingdom of God. The houses of worship that are built for money are empty of prayers and the perfume of incense. In addition, the priest who neglects the poor for their poverty or a widow for her neediness, and diverts his eyes from the pain of the sufferers while proceeding to a wedding celebration is a man who kills love in his heart and creates hatred in the hearts of the miserable...

It is one of the worst kinds of love when a man acts as a woman’s lover, only to enslave her body and then throw her onto the footpath after achieving his goal, without considering her feelings. He is a vicious monster who disguises himself in the clothes of a human.

It is one of the worst kinds of love when a person loves God only because he is in need of His help, but when he is satisfied with his life, he does not offer a prayer from the bottom of his heart to the Lord.

It is one of the worst kinds of love when a worker shows a great deal of sacrifice to please his master, as if to beg, when he can receive his income without such sacrifice. A worker should fulfil his duties as required, and no more, and the master should pay him his salary for the work he has done without asking him to do more. Hence, the worker who sacrifices when sacrifice is not needed is like a beggar who begs, while the master who asks for more undue work is a greedy man who fears paying if others do not suffer to receive his money.

It is one of the worst kinds of love when opportunists pretend to love ordinary people, only to turn their backs on any help-seekers after having met their own interests. Those opportunists resemble the mosquito that sucks blood and leaves suffering and wounds behind it. The most wonderful kind of love is that which gives and does not take. Love is not a trade in a marketplace or a type of exchange. If you can love this way, hatred will not settle in your hearts and evil will not find its way to you.”

 

6- The Sea and Nature’s Elements

Some people complained about the vicious and horrible storm that swept the village, uprooted the trees, destroyed the fields and flooded the houses. The sea waves had fiercely risen and shattered the fishermen’s boats. The villagers asked, “Who will compensate us while the country is emerging from a dreadful war? Who possesses authority over the elements to prevent them from wreaking havoc in this area once again?”

I replied, “You are angry at nature, but when it provides for you with generosity, you do not show thankfulness. If you had a field rich in fruit and grains and noticed another man picking from that field, you would fight him and probably fire at him in order to kill him. Is it possible for a greedy man to confront nature when it disappoints him and when it refuses to offer him one piece of fruit? The sea gave you from its wealth, and without its generosity, many would die. Did you forget the long days of famine when you plead to the God of the Sea? You knelt on His shore and asked Him consistently to save your children and wives from death. He replied to you with happiness and love, and when you went to the sea to throw your nets, God opened His arms and granted generously. That year, your trees were bone dry and your fields were dying from the drought, but the heavens showed compassion on you and it poured heavily. In the winter, it poured, as it also did in the summer. Thus, your vineyards flourished and prosperity returned to your life. You became satisfied, but you did not give thanks. Are you scornful toward the ocean when the ocean is the compassionate father who carries your boats to the far waters so that you may discover the depths of love? Are you disgruntled by nature and its elements? May God have mercy on you, for you deny the favor of Heaven. You gladly receive and are not burdened by taking, even when your tables are plentiful, your silos are full of grains, and your pockets are swollen with gold and silver. Still, when the time comes for giving, even if it is only a modest amount, you become pale, your hands begin to shiver, your tongues shrivel, and you confront those who ask you for a favor with loads of abuse. Your indecency has reached a level where you would throw food to the dogs, yet deny it to the Son of Man if He were to visit your homes.”

The people looked at each other and angrily said, “You treat us badly, O priest. You disgrace us and brazenly reveal our flaws. Can you reduce the severity of your judgments and offer us beneficial advice?” I said to them, “Go with peace, O brothers, to the ocean and ask it for forgiveness, as every drop of water that you drink is given to you by it. Go to the sea and contemplate so that you may understand that the Great One gives with no limit, whereas the miserly rivulet gives with the fear it may dry up. Every droplet of the sea has a tale with time and Man. Ask the droplet to disclose the secrets of the past and the dreams of the future. Walk on water with your eyes closed and do not be afraid, for you will not drown, even if the tide is high. The sea will carry you on its lap to the harbors of peace and assurance. Take from the sea the virtue, benevolence and hope that you need after your souls became scarred and burnt by the fires of war. Teach your children to be as the sea. If you do not, they will merely be shadows splattered on the crossroads. Go, you people, to the elements of nature and sanctify them. I truthfully say to you, these elements are the beloved and tender mother who heals your wounds and comforts you during the ominous nights... Each time you pick a flower from a garden or drink a drop of water from a gently flowing spring, and every time you feel tired or at ease, sing and rejoice, for the spirit of God fills you so that you are reborn to create. Each time you gather the wheat from the threshing floor, glorify God eagerly, play the flute, wear perfume, visit the homes of the needy and provide them with grains so that the harvest becomes complete. Then, you will be able to eat and live merrily. If the sky thunders and the storm rages, open your windows so that the wind enters your homes and rests upon your tables for a moment before following its path. Do not assume that the storm will stay in your homes for a long time. The storm does not end the way your life does in death. It does not fall ill and does not feel sorrow as you do. It circles around itself as the dancers do and then resumes its trip to the farthest reaches. Indeed, O people, you should love both the heat and the chill, the roses and the thorns, as well as the rain and the drought. Love everything which is drawn by the hands of God. If you do this, your seasons shall flood with abundance and your sacs shall not be empty, no matter how harsh the days and the ages are.”

 

7- Fatigue and Exhaustion

Rejoice in your fatigue, O weary ones. Do not speak of your exhaustion, but rather, pronounce that you are happy with your struggle, as tiredness is a baptism for both your body and soul. How pleasant it is when one returns to his home in the evening to reunite with his wife and children over a table abundant with what Heaven has granted! How nice it is to eat from your own hands and to celebrate after every harvest season when your efforts transpire into a banquet and loaded sacs of produce.

Some of you tire because you place your bodies above your souls. Some of you hate to be tired because you live with no hope and do not look to the future with sharp eyes to see the joys life has prepared for you. Some of you do not tire from your plight because you know that the harvest will be prolific when summer arrives – You are the believers.

Those who tire but do not benefit others deserve pity, and those who tire merely and benefit many are geniuses who deserve to be rewarded. Meanwhile, those who tire greatly, yet benefit only a little, deserve to be glorified in their struggle, as they do not despair from life. Those who tire a little and benefit a little are the sons of justice and equality, and similar to them are the ones who tire a great deal and produce a great deal. The worst ones are those who do not tire at all, the ones who sit idly at home – These are the futile yeast which does not produce.

You say that you suffer in your fields and when you are guiding your flocks. You also say that poverty invaded your homes and made you poor, whereas others only tire a little, yet live in luxurious houses and ride nice horses. At these rich people, do not look, and do not say that God granted them more than He did you, as God is fair with His children and gave you all the mind and heart. He sees you and hears your complaints, but you are not aware that He is present with you, as you are of little faith. Look at the trader who accumulates his wealth in banks and flaunts all of his jewels. Do you not see that he sits in the front rows and displays his acts of charity? God denied him the gift of modesty and granted it to you instead. Hence, you wear your tattered clothing and give only a bit of bread to the beggar, all while never announcing your generosity to anyone – This is the virtue that has no greater virtue.

God may have offered somebody else a weak mind and a fragile body that is vulnerable to illness, while your minds are enlightened and your bodies are strong, being shaped by the sun and storms and being purified by the fresh air. God may also deprive a rich man from a restful mind and tranquility or happiness, while you feel great joy in your homes. You may experience cold during the winter, and water may creep into your taverns to destroy your grains and fruit, but the rich man suffers from the cold during summer and has tragedies entering his house to make him suffer and ail.

Teach your children that hard work is a blessed duty and do not teach them idleness. If someone tells you that many people are rich without having to struggle, refute the claim, for richness is not limited to wealth. Also, if someone tells you to not let your children work hard, but to instruct them to worship and teach them that the Book delivers absolute knowledge, know that this advocate is the infidel who does not believe that life moves forward and that the victory of Man cannot be achieved without ambition and knowledge. Indeed, my brothers, I truthfully say this to you as a devoted priest because God who has created the universe with His genius does not want you to be distant from creativity. Open the book of knowledge and read it to your little ones before they go to sleep, instead of narrating to them the stories about jinns and witches. Tell your children that Man is a mixture of mind and soul, and that the mind and soul transcend together to the highest peaks and do not stop at set boundaries.

The thinkers and philosophers who considered Man to be a pure soul made a great mistake, so they dragged him to the centuries of darkness and the eras of stone. A proper religion does not prohibit you from invading outer space and discovering the unknown to uncover many realities with which you are unacquainted. Yes, my brothers, work hard and ask others to do so, and every time you see a man sitting on the footpath, scold him and say that the vineyards are waiting and the ocean is calling. Take him to your fields, shops and factories so that he may learn how to suffer and become a renewed man. Every time you encounter a farmer who complains about his work during the day, alleviate his burden and say to him that suffering eases if his faith is immense, such that if he believes his land will reward him, his agony will vanish. Every time you hear a woman crying, remind her that pain is our paradise. And so, all shall recognize that hard work is the rule of our lives. It was born with us and will die with us, and with it, our souls shall embrace eternity.

 

8- The Nature of Satan

A few visitors from a neighboring village were telling me about a woman they know who is possessed by Satan. They said that she attacks her husband and neighbors, pulls her hair out, talks profanely and does not recognize her children. The visitors asked me about Satan. I explained, “You people do not distinguish between Satan and evil, and you think that they are the same. The truth is that Satan is not evil, but Satan is he who lures you with evil doings and pushes you toward bad deeds, and when you fall for the tricks of Satan, you commit evil. Hence, evil is derived from the acceptance of Satan’s thoughts and ways. Both Satan and evil are separate. This woman you speak of in your village does evil in your view, but in her eyes, she does good. If she were aware of her wrongdoings, she would not be acting this way. Knowledge is the tool with which you confront evil and triumph over it.”

One of these men said to me, “I read in Goethe’s Faust that the devil is a part of God's plan and that his doings in people complete the doings of God. What is your opinion regarding this concept?”

I replied, “It is not true that the devil is a part of God's plan, and if the devil was once one of the angels, this does not mean that he possesses any trace of holiness, just as black ink poured onto a white canvas renders no trace of whiteness. The devil completes his own actions, but God is complete and His actions are complete. He does not depend on anyone to complete His work. Truthfully, my brothers, God banished Satan from Heaven to Earth, as he did to Adam. The difference between Satan and Adam is that Satan does not know the good, whereas Adam knows both good and evil, and they reside as twins within him.”

One of the visiting men murmured, “The news about Satan is amusing and much time may pass before we grow satisfied with hearing the stories told about him. Is it true, O revered priest, that once the devil and a priest agreed to carry one another for a distance, so they cooperated and did not tire?”

I laughed at the man’s words and responded pitifully, “How mere are these poets? To what extent do they use their imaginations to create tales that have no place in reality? Gibran wanted to portray evil in the body of the priest. Instead, he depicted the good in Satan’s self. Satan would not carry anyone on the road and would not help a tired man. Those who wrote about this topic wanted to imitate Goethe with no thought. Believe me, my brothers, some poets depicted the devil as one of the preachers of human progression and invention, and they thanked him for his efforts in the reform of the world. The fault is not of the poets, but of some religious leaders who place religion at odds with science, assume that human progress conflicts with doctrines, and who want Man to regress to the era of darkness and primitiveness. Look at them as they grow their beards and carry their sticks, despite not suffering from a limp. If the laws permitted it, they would have raised their swords and rode their horses to attack the cities and villages, burning them all to the ground, including the people. Such ignorant and foolish people are the ones who distanced the thinkers, poets and geniuses from religion. Thus, the pens began to praise the devil and attribute to him every great achievement related to progression and advancement toward the future. I advise you not to believe what the poets say, but to believe that God created the human mind to be an instrument of knowledge, growth and the glory of Man. No, the devil did not preach for the progress of the world. God is the one who created us and armed us with the weapon of genius, not for us to passively watch the movement of the universe, but to race it and unveil its miraculous secrets.”

I concluded my speech aimed at the visitors by saying, “If you see a man limping in the street with a horse’s leg, either distance yourselves from him so that he does not trouble you, or go to the police and tell them that the devil begs in your village. Ask them to arrest him and to throw him into the deepest abyss. Do not hang a horse shoe in your house to ward off the evil eye, as it is the devil’s hoof, although you are unaware of this. The devil is always close to you, and he may hear you now and plan to push you toward the dungeon of evil. Your victory over him makes him agonize, suffer and become isolated, and he may leave you for good if he is certain that you are persistently resisting him and rejecting his orders. Just as the devil assumes that you are ignorant and naïve, and that you do not know what he is preparing for you, he too is ignorant and naïve, and you are able to carry him like a corpse into the dreadful darkness.”

 

9- The Poets

Some men scolded and accused the poets who were singing in the marketplace of committing blasphemy. I defended the poets by saying, “Poets are like shining stars. They lie the same way a woman lies when she colors her face to become more attractive, but they have not committed any crime and have not robbed anyone. If they adored women, they did well because beauty is sacred and he who does not love beauty is a slave of ugliness. Poetry, O people, is the lantern of virtues which is hung in the middle of the night. Poetry is the healer of the deep wounds that the doctors were unable to heal. If medicine is good for bodies, poetry is a remedy that treats and assuages the agony of suffering souls. The most beautiful poetry is akin to innocence. Look at how the bird sings poetry; listen to the poets of the villages and how they improvise in the rainy evenings. Yet, the greatest poetry is that which is blended with emotion, just as good wine is blended with water to become one body. People can distinguish between one poet who has lived once like the shadow that lives shortly then vanishes without a trace, and another poet who leaves bold engravings on the forehead of time. Why does a poet die and become immortal? It is because he bestows upon you the heritage of thought, which enriches civilization. When a poet dies, the earth quakes and the stars shiver, but the poet transcends to thrive in the perception of Man. Hence, he is remembered and glorified. People recite the words that were spoken by the poet in the old centuries, as if he were still among them, and they teach their children his poetry so that they may preserve it like precious treasures... The life of a poet is never-ending and his death is a myth believed by none. Go to your homes and open the old books to see the souls wandering within their pages and the bodies moving around the lines. Read what was written so that you may discover the depth of the words. Every word is a sea, every letter is an island, and every page is a universe full of constellations and dimensions. Examine the words of the poets to discover the truth about humanity that loves good and virtue. You may see insolent poets who like wine. Do not strike them with the arrows of hatred and revenge. Instead, pour wine with them and drink until you are drunk, and love women as they do because it is not offensive for a man to love, but not to love. You will see poets killed on the side of the road. Ask the poets who killed them. They will tell you, 'The kings, ministers, tyrants and thugs are the ones who killed us and planted our bodies in the ground to be eaten by hungry crows. They hammered sticks into our chests. You ought to know that the killers and assassins are the ones who corrupt the world. We did not commit any misdeeds save show emotion and love, while others do not reveal what they feel.'

Yes, my brothers and beloved, in the deserts that stretch out behind us, there are oceans of blood that flow from the bodies of humble beings. The swords that are tarnished with blood are still being raised in each era to strike once more. Who authorized the tyrants to crucify the word on the wall and to behead the singers who carry roses? Who dares kill a poet simply because he adored the body of a woman, while the kings’ mansions blast with the bodies of belly dancers and boil over the fires of filthiness? Which form of justice allows for the innocent to be punished for their innocence and for the criminal to be acquitted of his countless crimes? They told you about some poets and said, 'These poets are of a spoiled and reckless generation, so discard them and do not read their poetry.' I tell you that these poets are blessed, for they prepare a banquet of love and beauty, and grant us hanging gardens over which the sun does not set. Others told you to burn the books of filth and romance, but I wish for you to burn the thoughts of the imbeciles and to bury obsolete ideas under the desert sands. Take the oppressors to sanitariums so that they may be cured from their malignant illnesses. Prevent them from mixing with people so that they will not corrupt minds. Yes, my children and beloved, people should drag ignorant kings to the courts of history and silence those who preach killing in the name of religion, for religion is mercy and forgiveness and is not a plea to commit a crime. Pray with me, my brothers, to protect the poets from all evil and to pay tribute to the martyrs of literature throughout the centuries, as they were oppressed for their love, incarcerated despite their purity, and had their blood shed on the arid floors, although they only did what was good for humanity.”

10- The Light and Darkness

I explained to some villagers who were visiting my temple that the light and the darkness are inseparable twins. They were born together and will die together. You look at the light and love it, for it illuminates your course and guides you to the beauty of nature. Hence, you enjoy the valleys, hills, beaches and the sky. You honor the light that the sun offers because you see your wives, children and beloved through it. You are afraid when the light vanishes before your eyes because you feel confused by the dreariness of your paths, where the Ghouls and Titans hide to frighten you. You also teach your children to love the light, as God is light and Man himself is a light in his world. The prophets, messengers and great thinkers came to spread the light everywhere. Still, the light of virtue differs from the sunlight, for the light of virtue cannot be seen with the naked eye, whereas the sunlight can. The light of virtue is emitted from heart to heart and from mind to mind, while the sunlight effuses from outside the heart and mind to be embraced by the eye with passion. I truly say, he who is satisfied with the daylight does not see his way during the night, but darkness vanishes from the way of the man who enjoys the light of his heart and mind, and so blackness disappears before him.

Look at the blind men and observe how they walk and find their way by the light of their hearts and minds. Ask them about things that exist, such as the color of the sky, the flowers of spring, the clothes that they wear, and the sunlight. You will realize that they fall silent and cannot explain the meaning of the word “color”, for color is determined by the eye, and only those endowed with eyesight can distinguish between colors and between the darkness and light, but the blind men will tell you that they see with the light of their hearts and minds, and without this light, their life is only darkness over darkness and obscurity over obscurity.

Some people may not enjoy the light which is born outside of their souls, and because of this, you witness the sadness and desperation on their faces. They prefer death over life, and death may overcome them. Where is the light that can return hope to their defeated souls? Where is the force that can drag them to the highest peak and allow them to embrace their lives? Why don’t those who have lost the external light but have grown satisfied with the light emerging from the depths of their souls lunge into despair?

Some teachers may teach you about the light, although their souls are full of darkness. They may call on you to practice virtue, while they are unlawful, sneaky and deceitful. Some preachers may come to your homes carrying pale books and claiming that their supernatural power can transform the gloominess into clarity. Do not believe these preachers, for they practice magic and sorcery. Instead, ask them, “Who sent you to clean our houses when your houses are infested? How dare you advise us when you are in need of advice and assistance?”

God has offered us the light since birth and we keep it in our prayers, celebrations and sadness. When we commit sins, it is because we forget to pour oil in our lantern, but the next day, we note what we did, and we bring pure oil to light our lantern again. A sin is not committed against the light, but it is a crisis within the light. The punishment of a sin should not be eternal death, but rather, forgiveness and pity on the soul that fell asleep and did not realize the sudden arrival of darkness. Indeed, my brothers, the light gave us life, and the darkness does not prevent us from having life. You will now say that I am encouraging you to commit sins and to justify your wrongdoings. You would be wrong, for I encourage you to be cautious and to not fall into temptation, but if you fail to do so, do not panic because God loves you.

Pour the light into your souls to render them sacred temples and purify your hearts with almsgiving, for charity adds light to the light and erases darkness, and with charity, God may pardon your many trespasses. You do well if you love the light that transpires outside your spirits because you are better than he who puts his hands over his eyes to avoid the morning light. You should know that the external light is not sufficient to enlighten your lives. Meanwhile, do not knock again on the doors of those who damn the light, and do not visit them the next day because they hate what God has created for them. They are selfish and enjoy taking but hate giving. They curse darkness even though darkness dominates their unseen depths. These people enjoy only that which makes them happy and refuse what makes them unhappy. Conversely, you should rejoice in the dawn, dance with the night breeze, sing with the violin in the day and night, and learn how to enlighten like the planets do when the sunlight recedes into darkness. This way, your happiness will linger as an eternal melody with no end.

 

11- Temptations

Temptations set you free from the desire that tortures you, and they take you from your waiting moments to the banquets of pain. Temptations are the raging voices in your souls and the outfit that you strip off when you feel the fire and the heat. When you follow your temptations, you become followers of your obsessions, desires and agonized dreams. Love, tenderness, hatred and passion are all temptations. Some of them are incessant, while others are short-lived.

They say that your response to temptation is an act of your body. I truly say that your body and soul are inseparable, essentially as the sunlight and its temperature are inseparable. They are twins which cooperate, harmonize and help each other, and when they are in conflict, they are quick to reconcile and agree with one another again. So, do not blame your bodies for what your souls submissively require, and do not acquit your souls of the whims of your bodies, for the man who loves or hates sets both his body and soul into temptation, while the man who kills others, kills his soul and his body and transforms temptation into crime. I insistently ask you to enslave your temptations and deny serving them, for the man who becomes a worshiper of his desires loses his divine nature and becomes a meager chunk of wood in a troubled ocean.

They told you that you are able to control your desires and that you can kill them. This is true, but when a person follows his passions, he should not be considered a criminal who deserves punishment, for the spring could call you to smell its perfume, the sea could invite you to bathe your body, and the woman could invite you to love her with all your feelings. If you reply to the call that comes from afar and offer yourself to it, then you obey temptation, and you would not be different from the birds that reply to the call of the blue sky or from the stars that are called by the darkness of the earth to send their light to all directions.

The response of a strong person to his desires may differ from the response of a weak person, and strength and weakness may be innate but develop with time. A child may be born having a soul of strength, while another may be born with a soul of weakness. Gradually, one of them evolves and sheds the cloak of strength from his body, whereas the other sheds the cloak of weakness and submission. Some people are born strong, live tough and die mighty, and some are born weak, live in submission and die in despair. Be mighty over time, control your emotions and enslave your desires because if your desires enslave you, you will be unable to break free from them, even if you batter yourself, as this weakness becomes your human nature.

 

12- Death

A peasant woman came to the temple screaming and lamenting. I rushed to her and asked her about what happened. She told me that her husband died in the fields and that she is distressed and does not know what she will do in his absence, as he was her and her children’s only provider. After she finished speaking, I told her, “You should have weapons in the thunder and storm in order to confront life without a man. Tomorrow, forgetfulness will be the remedy which cures your ailments and allows you to launch yourself into life with strength and willingness. You dread loneliness and you are afraid that your children will go hungry, your fields will dry up and that you will receive the mocking glances of the people. I say to you, God stands with those in pain and He created for women a soul which is equal to that of men and a body which endures difficulties and tribulations. Fear is a fleeting feeling which scatters with time and when one senses his responsibilities and others’ need for him. Sadness is like a song that quickly vanishes, leaving no remnants but an echo. My daughter, I truly tell you that if you do not grieve, happiness will not come to you. Sadness is another face of joy, and when we grieve over somebody’s death, we prepare ourselves for happiness when we meet him again. For this reason, wait for your husband to return from the fields with the tremble of the branches, the trickle of the rivulets and the singing of the shepherds. Prepare the dinner table for him so that he can eat with his children and drink from the cup which you preserved for him. Look at him as he dusts off death from his clothes, just like the wind sheds the dust off the boulevards. Speak to him so that he may tell you the stories of the unknown, about what is beyond the threshold of darkness, and about the light which is seen by the people who are overwhelmed by God’s love... Death is the harbor that we relentlessly approach throughout the passing years. When some see the storm pass fiercely, irately and loudly, they say, 'We wish we were not born and did not embrace life.' These people are the selfish ones who love to take with no bounds, and when they cease taking, they curse themselves and existence. Do you assume that those who were not born into this world are better off? Have we once asked them about their thoughts and feelings? Do they prefer to remain in absurdness than to be born in the dawn? They anticipate the right moment to be born into this life because the stagnancy that clutches them leads them toward despair and because the silence that encircles them is drastic and frightening. Hence, we are far better off than those who are yet to be born. Once they are born, they shall celebrate, dance and sing because God has released them from dormancy to liveliness and from nonexistence to existence. Some say, 'we are immortal and will not die'. These are the ignorant, arrogant and pompous ones who consider themselves greater than others and stronger than the times. These people erected statues of themselves, worshiped themselves, and plastered their great achievements on the walls and poles. I truthfully say that these people lack the wisdom that can illuminate their path during the gloomy nights. When death surprises them, they will be the most stunned and frightened. The more simple ones await their death in patience and reflection, glancing at it with content eyes. On their lips is a prayer which is deep as the depths of the sea. There is a great difference between the conceited being who claims that life is one of his possessions, and the humble and loving being who affirms that he belongs to life.”

As soon as I ended my speech, the woman in front of me stopped crying, removed the colors of darkness from her eyes, and asked with hope, “Will my husband return to life as is written?”

I replied, “Yes, my daughter. How happy are those who say that they live in death! These are the optimists who consider time to be an infinite thread which does not cease. They desire another life, as they believe that their souls are valuable. Hence, they do not live only once. For this reason, I say, let these people have their bread and water, and let them take with them their tools so that they may use them in the next life. Greater than all these men are those who die as martyrs, for they rush toward death with open arms and with their faces touching the sun. How great is it for Man to face death with courage and to consider death as being better than a life with no dignity! On the other hand, the weak and prideless fear death. They hide and prefer a life in the graves rather than a glorified resurrection. Such people have weak bodies that do not bear pain and suffering. Their souls are frail and unable to handle agony and separation. Go back to your children, my daughter, and be glad, as your husband was a good man during his life as he is in his death. Believe that many of the deceased live among us and unknowingly carry their own coffins on their shoulders. Teach your children to live their life and to enjoy its scent. When they die, they will die contently and will thank God for the blessing of life, which He has yet to grant many. For every one of us, there is life and death, and if we consider that life is walking and conversing with us, death also accompanies us, but quietly, waiting for the moment it can strike us. How wise is the being who understands that just as death awaits him on the pavement, there is also a life he loves and enjoys! Just as life is a coincidence, so too is death a coincidence indeed. However, the latter coincidence looks at us, and we try to view it but fail to do so through the veil of secrets.”

 

13- Concerns of Mr. Hoffman

When Mr. Hoffman visited me in the temple of light and virtue, after being crippled by hopelessness and despair, he was in desperate need to know the hidden secrets of his soul. He was overwhelmed by stillness, and so, he became unable to do anything except complain about the emptiness of his life and the banality of the speechless destiny that ambushes the weak and faint-hearted.

Mr. Hoffman entered the temple and was overcome by a sense of obedience. As the following day would hold the feast of lofty wisdom, the temple was illuminated with candles and decorated with white roses, the symbols of both death and life. The volunteers had not yet arrived to help me prepare the square in front of the temple. I was still kneeling before the picture of the only God and whispering an intimate prayer when I saw Mr. Hoffman entering. I advised him to wait for an instant until I was able to finish my prayer. After a short while, I stood up and approached him to say, “You have come to the appointment which we agreed on. Tell me, my son, what has happened to make you restless and hateful toward all humans?”

He did not reply but kept observing me as I sat on my chair in the middle of the temple, combing the ends of my beard with my fingers. I awaited his reply with no hope. I addressed him again, “Did you come to me to be silent or to talk? We, in this temple, are very devoted to each and every one of this suburb’s residents. Are you ill?”

He replied, “I feel malaise. Yesterday, I visited a doctor who offered me a remedy. He considers the condition which I am suffering from to be a simple symptom brought on by the harsh cold weather.”

“Do you believe what the doctor has advised?” I asked.

He responded, “I do not believe him at all, as I feel defeated in my soul and I fainted twice yesterday due to the resentment I feel, resentment like that of a colocynth.”

Mr. Hoffman paused for a moment. He then swallowed his sadness and said, “About whom should I tell you, Reverend Father? Do I tell you about that woman I once loved? She was hungry and I fed her. She was naked and I offered her clothes, but I did not receive anything in return for my offerings besides a profusion of nonsense and disappointment.”

I advised, “Do not think of her. Grip an axe and ambush her picture which is hung in your heart and break it in order to save yourself from her crime and to erase her name from your existence. Believe me, my son, being close to some people is a loss, while being distant from them is a gain. With patience, and only patience, can a miracle occur. Do you think that this woman is better than you? Do you make yourself her victim and suffer and worry while she lives happily and blissfully?”

Mr. Hoffman explained, “I was extremely patient, but I harvested bitterness and found myself lost in nature, with my conscience reproving me for my weakness. Who else should I tell you about? Should I tell you about myself and that I am living in a cave which is deeper than sin itself, and that when I saw that the birds have nests, I cried for a long time because I realized I am an old man and I will never resemble the birds.”

“No matter how much pain and agony you endure, you mustn’t stop lighting candles in God’s temple,” I asserted.

Mr. Hoffman continued, “But those people for whom I am suffering think that I am not suffering, and I grow weary of the pain caused by such agony. Still, people understand only what they see.”

I replied, “Yes, they take and do not give, and so, they ignore giving. Despite that, do you ever see the birds stop singing or a spring which is averse to flowing? Your heart should become a refuge for those who flee themselves, and it is then you shall become an angel.”

Mr. Hoffman responded, “An angel with a pale face... How can he perform miracles? The others will come to him and brandish their sticks in his face, yelling, 'When did you feed us when we were hungry? When did you clothe us when we were naked? Renounce your idleness, shatter your laziness on the steps of the city, and give us our daily bread forever, as every time we see you, we become needy.'”

I had a long laugh through which the walls of the temple trembled. I then asked Mr. Hoffman, “Don’t you have children?”

Mr. Hoffman answered, “Yes, I have four children but I did not give them life.”

“How did you get them? Did you adopt them?” I interrogated.

Mr. Hoffman went on to explain, “They were the children of a poor man who was diagnosed with a deadly illness and told by doctors that he would die. He begged me to raise his children, but I refused, for I did not like raising children. He told me that his wife had passed away, that he had no relatives and that none of the rich people in the city accepted to take care of his little ones. Indeed, the rich folk scolded him, demanding to be left alone and wishing that someone would take their own children from them so that they could be relieved from their concerns... It was due to the poor man’s insistence and profuse tears that I accepted to take care of his children and raise them in my home until they became older... After a while, the man miraculously defeated his illness and asked that I return his children to him. I was horrified and claimed that the children were not his, but he retained them by law despite my objection.”

I retorted, “They are his. Are they not?”

Mr. Hoffman defended, “They are his children by blood, but he does not own them and I will always believe they are mine. I do not want to be a fool anymore. Fools die and nobody feels sorry for them.”

I continued, “I want to help you become a strong man. When you leave this place, you will find one of your friends on your way. He is the other side of you. He will protect you from the treachery of tyrants, but do not tell him your secrets so that you can prevent him from attacking you with his fiery nails and from seeking revenge for your betrayal.”

“Will I be cured by him from my sickness which could not be properly explained by doctors?” he asked.

I responded by saying, “Yes, he is a magic maker and he might suffer on your behalf, so do not oppress him. Your other side is the curer and the cure. He is sickness and destruction. If you treat him harshly, you face death, but if you treat him with love and friendship, you save yourself from death and extinction.”

“What should I do if the others demand his blood?” Mr. Hoffman questioned.

“Give them a false date and let them wait for a god who will not arrive. Blood is heavy. Do not kill anyone, even if that one is you.” I warned.

“Wise priest, do you want me to lie?” he retorted.

I said, “You have already lied many times during your life and you assumed that all of which you said was true. For now, you have a chance to lie to the others and be honest with yourself. Get out of here, confused man, and remember that if you arm yourself with wisdom in the coming days, you will never suffer.”

Mr. Hoffman replied, “What you are saying embarrasses and tortures me, O priest in the Temple of the Soul. Do you want me to reincarnate a soul which is not mine in order to protect myself?”

I answered, “You are a strange man. You have reincarnated the soul of weakness, yet the soul of strength that is waiting for you to return to it was given to you by God since the beginning of time and you do not know about it. Look for it and you will find it screaming at you, begging and asking, 'Why have you betrayed me, son of the serpent, and why have you left me in a deserted field among thorns and storms?'”

“Your sayings resemble Nietzsche’s and you scare me.” Mr. Hoffman defended.

“No, Nietzsche does not know the truth. He saw himself as a giant in a deceptive mirror and thought that Man is God. I know that Man is not God and will never be God, but he possesses a drop of God’s scent. Why on earth would he waste that drop which glorifies him and provides him with virtue? Go, my son, and be humble in order to be weak in body and strong in divinity. Give others your bread to satisfy them, even when they do not return your favor. Did you not see them sitting in the front row and topping the banquets? Yesterday, I banished one of them, for he was arrogant with his words and satanic in his soul. Men like him exist everywhere. They take from God and do not give Him in return. They lie to everybody but speak the truth to demons. They flaunt themselves in gatherings but leave no chance for the wise men, authors and artists to talk. Their insolence reached its prime, and if you expect them to give you, they will give you nothing but their arrogance and ego. In spite of this, you make them burn in the fire of their own hatred and you are avenged when you overwhelm them with your graces and goodness.” I explained.

Mr. Hoffman retorted, “You are the priest in the Temple of the Soul, yet you guide me toward revenge and darkness!”

“Yes, your God was not weak and He did not plant in your soul the tree of fear and cowardice.” I maintained.

“Is it an act of goodness when I mistreat the arrogant and haughty?” asked Mr. Hoffman.

I explained, “Good and evil have been bitter friends since the beginning. You might have read the works of Gibran and understood from him that Man is extremely good and free of evil save when hungry, thirsty, or when life requires him to be a giant. Gibran defends the man who loses his way without losing his human nature. Goethe himself wants evil to be the servant of goodness. But let me truly say to you that Gibran and Goethe do not know the direction of the wind, for evil is in contrast to good, and the one who commits evil doings should be held responsible because he allows evil to conquer the good inside his soul. Hence, others become victims in the temple of his hatred and corruption. Evil does not serve the good and does not lead to the good, but those who are overwhelmed by their desire for the materialistic world overvalue the domination of the devil. For this reason, my son, I tell you to tolerate the sinners and felons. When you do so, you create good for yourself and malevolence for them, for the most hated thing for those people is to see you happy and unworried by the harm they cause you.”

These words were the last I said to Mr. Hoffman before he silently bid me farewell and vanished behind the secrets of life, where the wind draws lines on the sand, blinding eyes to the absolute truth. He went out to the square where the city's residents move hurriedly and noisily. Since then, Mr. Hoffman learned to not suffer and cry. He took refuge on the path and befriended beggars and sinners. He saluted the haughty with a smile, and the amazed people looked at him and said, “Mr. Hoffman has lost his mind and has become useless.”

 

14- The Woman and her Husband

I was wandering in the fields, walking with the peasants, talking to the woodchoppers, and breathing some fresh air after a period of severe cold weather had stricken the trees and misshaped them into naked poles. The winter was harsh this year. It damaged the harvest and destroyed lands, but the people in the town’s outskirts did not despair. They continued their work with patience and faith. Storms do not cripple men and women from the perpetual pursuit of creativity. Blessed is the plow that changes the face of the land, turns it over and removes the drought from its veins. Blessed is the hand that sows the soil with grains, despite knowing that a large amount of seeds will be eaten by the birds and dispersed by the storms. Blessed are the hungry mouths that await the harvest to celebrate, and blessed are the poets and artists who are taken by the beauty of nature throughout all seasons. It is for this reason that they have worn the clothing of the forest, bathed in the water of rivers and fountains, and translated the glory of Heaven in their works.

As I was thinking about the ageless power of God and glorifying the hurried souls which are carried by the soft breezes to all directions, a beautiful peasant woman approached me. She was tall and dressed in old tattered clothing. She was agitated and scared, looking behind her shoulder with furtive eyes. I thought to myself that the woman was being chased by someone. I heard her say to me, “Thank God you are here, Reverend Father. My husband does not allow me to visit the temple and talk to men. I took advantage of his absence for one hour to quickly come to you and complain about the injustice and agony that I am enduring. Advise me, Father, for I am lost and do not know what to do. Ignorance has turned me into a speechless doll and cowardice has smelted me into an immobile piece of steel. This is how the days and nights pass swiftly while I am unable to run after them and catch them. Also, my husband forces me to work long hours, and when I ask for rest, he becomes upset and threatens me. Look at my outfit. Is it an outfit for a woman created by God to be in His image and likeness? What I require from humanity is less than what an animal asks for in order to live with contentment and satisfaction.”

I looked at the woman and shook my head, but I did not show any pity toward her. Instead, I felt a force pushing me to enlighten her, for she was not weak or lacking in courage but had grown accustomed to a certain way of life that caused her to become obedient and controlled. Still, between courage and temerity, there is a thin thread which can easily be grasped. I said to the woman, “You must be reborn, and rebirth requires pain and struggle. Do you not see how the beautiful flower emerges from the arid soil and how it penetrates the wall of nonexistence to embrace the morning light and spread its perfume into the air? Do you not see how the distant star cracks the darkness of the night to deliver its light to humanity? Do you not see how the shattered wave recovers its energy and parts, refusing death and loss? My daughter, the man completes the woman, similarly as the woman completes the man and gives him glory. Each needs the other to stay alive. The woman is the spring that nourishes the field and fills the sky with fragrance and melody. I wonder why tradition has treated the woman as subordinate to the man when she is neither inferior nor superior, and I wonder how a man can insult his wife without feeling insulted. Go to your husband and speak the truth to him, for he only knows part of the truth and believes only what he knows. If he refuses to listen to you and insists that he is the only one who knows the truth, leave his house and do not look back unless he retreats and accepts the rights and destiny which were granted to you by God. And when your husband goes to you and regretfully begs you to come back home, ask him for a new dress, a pair of shoes and colors for your skin and nails. Some will say that you are a materialistic woman, but you should know that the material and soul are one. They break up sometimes and work together sometimes, but they do not fight. Does he who walks in the garden differentiate between the flower and its color or between the sun and its light? Some people want you to lock yourself into the soul so that you remain weak and submissive and so your body functions as a frail device that works in bed, in the fields and in the house, only to break down when others want it to break.”

The woman was happy to hear these words. She looked at me hopefully and asked, “How should I treat my husband if he is greedy?”

I answered, “Stinginess is one of the most horrible vices. If generosity brings you closer to God, miserliness distances you from Him, for the greedy man is also greedy in his prayers. You work in the field and you deserve to have a part of its harvest to eat. Tell your husband that you do not give from his possessions, as he does not own anything. God is the only one who owns and delivers His bounties to His people. No land, sky or sea belongs to any one of us. Also, say to your husband that you struggle not merely to feed others from your hands, but rather, to feed yourself as well as others. If you have a poor neighbor, knock on his door every time your soul invites you to be a spawn of life. Offer him bread and wine, for the bread that you place on the table of others is the christening that liberates you from slavery, and the wine that you pour into the glasses of the thirsty is the sacrament that renews you.”

I concluded my speech by saying, “Yes, woman, fill your lungs with fresh air and refuse to kneel, for kneeling is defeat and deterioration, and if you have children, teach them patience, virtue, strength and courage. Erase fear from their souls, as they will face many people who expect weakness in the other in order to enslave them like they enslave animals. God help the person who surrenders and obeys. His back will not rest and his body will know no comfort... Yes, my daughter, be one with your husband but protect your honor, for death by the blade of the sword is more noble than a life under the wreckage of defeat.”

The woman left feeling content and glad. After a while, I heard that she bought new clothes and started giving her neighbors food. Her husband became a different man, and it was through her courage that he relinquished his savage personality.

 

15- Migration

I said to a group of men who were gathered on the harbor, “Some of you prefer to stay where you were born and others love to travel and discover the unknown, for migration is the love of distance and the worship of the religion of adventure. Carry your luggage and go to the sea to uncover new worlds. You were not born to stay in the hermitage of poverty, and when you desert your houses and fields, do not look back and do not say that you had many properties, for what you own is not yours and is possessed by silence and loneliness. Do not feel sad for having left your parents, brothers, sisters and loved ones. On every island you visit, you will have parents, siblings and loved ones. The ocean will teach you the melody of the distance and horizon, and the waves will swing you as children brought to life by nature’s womb. Remember the ones whom you love and miss with the song that is chanted by your lips and echoed by your hands. Do not cut ties with those whom you left on the far shore, for you will join them at an eternal banquet where no bread will dry and no water will evaporate. And if one shall die in the faraway land, carry him on your tired shoulders, bid him farewell and hope that you will meet again. Do not be despondent, as misery is a symbol of eternal death, whereas you are children of life. If someone tells you to go back to your sacred land, pointing to the difference in your color, race and tribe, respond with a tender smile and explain that all humans were derived from one race and one blood. Additionally, say that the one who claims otherwise does not love all which God has created. If someone says to you, 'You betrayed the land in which you were born; from its water you drank and from its fields you ate', reply by saying, 'We love freedom; where freedom exists, we find our country and where slavery exists, our countries do not.' Be cautious, my children. Do not be taken by arrogance when you become rich, for you were all poor and hungry and nothing has changed. The person who denies his past and refuses it cannot live his future. When you were in your country, you hated those who seized your money, stole your flocks and usurped your vineyards. Do not allow them to be reborn among you and to disrupt your lives. Those who want you to be servile and to follow are a group of dim people who were themselves followers and are seeking revenge because of their horrid past. Be loyal to the land that kept you safe in its lap and nourished you from its breasts, for it is your mother breastfeeding you, and it is an act of treason to hate and curse her. Observe how the people of this land live and live as they do. Look at how they design their clothing and wear similar clothes. Listen to how they talk and talk like them. Do not impose on them traditions that you inherited from your ancestors, for they are not familiar with these traditions and are unable to learn them from you. Instead, learn their traditions and obtain the customs that benefit you, and if one disrespects the law or wants to establish his own rules, reprove him and say, 'You are a visitor of this land and as such, you should respect the rules of the visited house.' Yes my brothers, you are not responsible for the Word of God and you are not the protectors of that Word. Indeed, God is not in need of people to speak on His behalf and to defend His belongings and Laws. Be devoted and pure, and do not bite the hand that offers you food, for it is a graceful hand from which you obtain happiness and hope. If you pass by a cemetery, pray for the dead with your eyes closed and do not say that the deceased are not your people, for the dead do not know their names and left their temples behind them upon departing to a spiritual plane where there are no temples and icons. In death, all people are equal; there is no black and white, no kings and slaves, and no leaders and paupers. Death relinquishes you from your worn clothes and sets you face to face with God. Hence, your religion is what you have done for your brothers and sisters and what you have sacrificed for your families. God will not ask anyone about his religion, as His religion is welfare and peace, and those who kill others and refuse to make peace will suffer because of their wrongdoings. Those who followed their desires have loved their own peace and have killed others to stay alive. I truthfully say to you that migration makes you suffer for your own sake and for that of others. Suffering is a virtue. Do not live in sadness, but rather, be happy that you have migrated. Sadness itself does not enter the hearts that flow with love, and it cannot be hugged by the arms which embrace life.”

 

16- Hatred

Hatred is fatal, not because it contradicts love, but because it contradicts thought and wisdom. If you hate your brother, you are nothing but a blind and deaf killer. If you hate your wife and children, you are an enemy of life, and if you hate yourself, you will suffer until death. Hatred is a dark house that you enter but only escape when your hearts are dry and your faces are arid like the deserts. It is because of hatred that thousands have rushed to war and humanity has been forced into horrible atrocities. If love teaches you to become thinkers and philosophers, hatred deprives you of your minds and transforms you into ghosts residing in a deserted field which has been stricken by storms and scorched by a sun which is oblivious to the seasons. These ghosts are vicious creatures that emit fire from their mouths to deliver fear and death in the ages. The books taught you to love to love and hate to hate, but I teach you to love to love so that hatred will have no conduit to talk through your tongues and no place to dwell in your hearts. If others hate and disrespect you, give them gold from your speech to enrich them as well as melodies from your hearts so that they may glorify God and dance. And every time somebody turns away from his hatred and finds his way back to you, prepare for him a rich banquet, invite the musicians and singers, and ask your servants to poor wine generously into your glasses, for on this day, you bury the night and celebrate the day, and you shall sleep on the wings of the white daisy and purity of spring.

Do not punish anyone for his hatred. If you do punish him, you become spiteful and cursed yourself, but if this person’s hatred becomes a source of danger, do not stand before him being feeble and confused. Rather, be strong and sturdy, for only the weak fall to the ground and become victims who have their bodies trampled by horses and eaten by carts. In contrast, the strong become glorified through their strength and conquer the beasts which attack them. They will tell you to be weak and lazy, but I say, if someone hits you with his shoe, do not retaliate with your sandal, but with the honest word that moves mountains and transforms darkness into lights and stars. Do not become victims in the battle of righteousness, for the hateful will not give you the perfume of the lily and the rustle of the trees. Instead, they will give you the thorns of the fields and hisses of the snakes. Let your hearts be ready for the difficult clash. It is a clash in which you will lose a little and gain a lot, but your victory is a glorious one that will make the coming generations glad and proud.

Take off the outfit of hatred and speak the language of peace, for it is the language of eternal love, and with this language, you shall break the handcuffs of slavery and fly in the skies of freedom. When you understand peace, you understand the language of the birds and the secrets of the forests and mountains, and you will unknowingly become poets. Peace that you give to others is the scent that overwhelms you and allows you to feel radiant. Peace is the boat which saves you from the harsh waves and ferocious storms, guiding you to the virtuous city where you will build your homes, raise your children into men and women, and multiply in the world. Those who know hatred are the ignorant ones who do not read or write. However, those who know love are the philosophers who have discovered the nature and existence of God. Hence, their words are prayers and their hearts are sacred temples.

 

17- Honesty

Who are the honest? They are those who raise their foreheads to the sun and do not fear the storms and thunder. Honesty is the promise that God gave to His people, yet they lie. Deception is cowardice. Do you not see how the liar changes his colors and fears getting caught? He is the disguised killer who murders his conscience before killing others. The honest being talks to God and God talks to him, while the liar is a blind devil who camouflages himself on the pathways and intersections to cause feuds among people. Honesty purifies and cleanses you, while dishonesty tarnishes you with dark soil, and every time you pretend to be honest, hatred will be clear on your faces, even when you cover the darkness of your souls with the snow of the mountains and wings of the angels, for paint cannot conceal anything from vigilant eyes. The liar kills his parents and children and sets houses ablaze to turn them into ashes, but the honest one builds with love and love mutually builds him. How great is the man who professes his wrongdoings, for this confession cleanses him and renders him pure as the snow and free as the springs! The liar who talks to you gently and tenderly but stabs you with his dagger when you walk away is worse than the Pharisees and is more wicked than those who crucified Jesus on the cross.

How numerous are the fools who lie every day! People still identify them, even when they are not exposed. The liar labels people as ignorant and considers himself to be clever to the extent that he believes his lies are undetectable by others. However, God blessed people with brains and eyes, and not everyone who ignores is ignorant, just as not everyone who pretends to possess intelligence is intelligent. My children, I truly say to you that honesty was born out of freedom and dishonesty was born out of slavery. Strive to be children of freedom and leave the children of slavery lost in every direction. Thus, they will live in the desert's heat, die in sadness, and their coffins will be made of the desolation of the night and wings of the bats.

 

18- The Day of Revenge

A group of vengeful men were preparing a loaf of bread and tears as big as the moonlight. They could not accept how a word became arid and was carried by the wagon of silence to a distant path beyond the wings of imagination. After days of bitter rage, they sent one of their men to the tribes and provided him with salty water and food which could not satisfy a hateful soul. The chosen man was the brother of the murdered man and the descendant of the killers, and he was ordered to return only upon completing the mission and carrying a sin in his heart. They said to him, “You are the messenger of darkness, and we will not rest until you discharge this rifle and strike a body with its bullets.”

There was a forest in the armed man's conscience, but he walked and walked with questions on his lips, which persisted like the crow’s call... Why does life suddenly end and why does the sky collapse? Why does crying not bring back a ship from the seas of silence and loss? Why do the ribs of death not shatter so that we are able to live until infinity? Who is the killer? Is it the noise of steel or a sick moment, or the coincidence of place and time and the blood that flows between them? And who can erase, in the blink of an eye, a beautiful picture from the heart?... While pondering upon these questions, the man shivered but continued on his path. Climbing up the hills, he sang a song about the brother who had left his home and family, only to be swallowed by mystery and become a rose in one’s memory.

The chosen man had to find the person responsible for the void left by the death of his brother to attack, and in turn, quench his thirst for revenge. After a journey in which boredom almost overcame him, the man saw a spring of water flowing along the rocks. He approached the spring to drink from its sparkling water and was greatly surprised when he caught a glimpse of another man among the thick trees. This man appeared to be in deep thought while he sat on a rock, placing his hands on his head. The man on the rock was crying and his eyes were burning until he could no longer shed another tear. He raised his hands toward the white clouds and said with a broken voice, “Do I ask for forgiveness, God, when my soul does not forgive me? Do I deserve to be one of your children after I denied prophecies and prophets? Yes, God of light and birth, I have sinned against you and I have taken the life of an innocent man. I took it in cold blood as if I were a forest animal that does not know the meaning of laws and doctrines. For this reason, my heart is filled with sadness and my head is overwhelmed with a voice that calls me like the bird of revenge. What should I do, God, to repent after what I have committed? Is there any remorse in the world that can erase the sin that destroys me? I betrayed love and fled from it like a coward to the caves of hatred and the abodes of slavery. A man has died. He has died and his blood is on my fingers. He has died with his hands raised toward the sky, and on his face was written a question greater than the dawn. He has died because the man in me became a toy in the hands of evil. He has died once, and when he was shutting his eyes, he said, 'I do not recognize you, so why do you want me to leave my children in the field to go to my funeral?' He died only once, but I have died many times because his departure has become a burning piece of ember that lies on my pillow, dressed in my clothing. Because of him, I pronounce myself dead in the day and night and in the summer and winter because I know that my crime is endless and is one which descends on my neck like a sword.”

The killer then buried his head into his arms and after he had finished talking to himself, he began to sob again. The other revengeful man was still standing behind the thick trees, stunned by what he had heard. He raised his rifle and pointed it at the criminal. It was possible to shoot the villain directly in the head with great ease, for he was close with only steps separating the two men. However, the sweat began to run down the armed man's forehead. He lowered his rifle to wipe his sweat with the end of his sleeve, but as he raised his weapon again, he felt a soft hand touching and pushing him back. He then heard a low voice ordering him to abandon his black mask and to return to his people gladly and quietly like a small child.

In the same evening, the man with the rifle returned to his tribe. The strong tribesmen, along with the women and children, gathered around him and asked, “Did you kill the killer?”

He replied, “I went to kill him but found that he had killed himself.”

“Do you mean that we exacted revenge on the killer?” they asked.

“Yes, we did so without firing one bullet into his body and without discharging the rifle,” he said.

“Do not talk to us with this mysterious language in which death and life are equal. We want to know who the murderer is and why he murdered an innocent man. We want to see his corpse so that the victim’s death can be avenged. Tell us the truth,” they pleaded.

The man explained, “The killer is an unknown man who is also a stranger to himself. How great was my desire to shoot him? You all know that I am not frail and do not fear confrontation. Indeed, my rifle never misses, but I found him as a dead body. I pondered about him and heard myself say, 'He took his life with his own hands.'”

The men, women and children scattered as soon as the darkness began to cover the land. A star brightened the sky like a prayer and an owl flapped its wings on a tree branch resembling a black tomb.

 

19- The Man and his Sons

I heard a man arguing with his sons and saying to them, “You are not my children and I do not know you.”

I approached the dignified and honorable man, and when he saw me, he rushed toward me and released the fatigue from his wrinkled face. His eyes were misty with tears of disappointment. He said to me in a dull voice, “Do you see, Reverend Father? These sons do not respect me and they treat me harshly.”

Then, the sons approached me and said, “Priest, this old man who stands before you disrespects us because we are younger than him. He wants to impose on us his teachings and rules, while we are in the time of advancement in which fathers are not supposed to judge their children.”

I stood between the man and his sons, annoyed by their argument. I then said to them, “Unblessed is he who comes between a man and his children, between a mother and her daughter and between two neighbors, as he came to destroy, not to build. Look ahead, but do not deny what you left behind. Man takes that which benefits him from the past while he quickly advances to the future. Do you not see how the birds leave their nests in the morning and return to them in the evening and how the flocks in the prairies miss their barns, although Mother Nature provides them with everything they need, such as food and water? Do not jump to judgment and do not be concerned with false teachings that aim for sabotage. God, who created you, loves you and requires that you show love toward strangers, so how can you not love your own relatives, O ye of little faith? Love is the sun that rises for all of you and does not discriminate among you. You should find your path under its light so that you don't lose your way. Be gentle like turtledoves, strong like storms, virtuous like flowing waters and steadfast like the forest trees. This is what I advise and teach you. Thus, man, take your children with you to your home and talk to them about the love that is in your heart, for they do not see it because love disguises itself behind a transparent veil. Walk, my children, to your home with faith in your hearts and believe that those who gave you life cannot forbid you from it. The soil which gives life to a tree does not desert it or part from it, but the soil and the tree stay together. You should express your tenderness to your elders because they feel the sting of loneliness and suffering as the years go by. Yes, my beloved children, you lack courage while you walk on convoluted routes, and if your legs stumble, you cry out, 'Who will save us?' But I truthfully tell you that Man saves himself and saves others with him too. Yes, my beloved, you are in a dispute because weakness controls you. You need to shed weakness from your bodies and souls and rise up to goodwill to embrace and enjoy it. And when a man tells his sons that they are not his children, he denies his soul, kills it in front of himself and walks at his own funeral, crying and wailing. Similarly, when children do not respect their father and mother, they contradict God who created them as He created the light from the sun and the river from the spring. If your parents impose their rules on you, do not panic but take what benefits you from those rules, and if they ask you why you did not take everything, say, 'The giver who offers a lot does not ask about the little that was not taken.' I truly say to you that what you take from your parents is the icon that bestows you with progress and wealth.”

The children looked at each other and said to their father, “Pardon us for our weakness, O father, and accept us into your kingdom. We thought we were the children of life, forgetting that you are the one who gave us life. We promise, father, that we will always be loyal to you, even when we become old men, just as the drop of water returns to the sea to be embraced by it with tenderness and compassion.”

The man rejoiced and said compassionately, “Blessed are you, my children, for finding the truth and leaving darkness in order to greet the morning light. Come with me to our home to celebrate your return from the journey of aberration and to rejoice our victory.”

 

20- Money

A period of famine characterized the times, and a group of peasants approached me after their fields were blighted by locusts, hence becoming infertile. The villagers were struck by poverty and sent their children to the neighboring villages to beg for food. One of the peasants said to me, “The temples are houses of God and you should help us, for we are children of God and we spent our money to build this temple.” Another said, “The temples are houses for poor people. It is where they find food for their bodies and souls.” A woman said, “Father, do you not see what has happened to us? Why don’t you do anything to save us and feed our children who cry and whimper?”

I replied to the peasants by saying, “You are right, my children, for temples are built for you. You poured your sweat and tears onto their stones and you raised their poles on your tired shoulders. The temples are yours in the days of prosperity as well as in the days of poverty and hunger. God will not be saddened if He returns your money to you. He will not stay naked if He gives you clothes to cover your naked bodies, and He will not feel hungry if He opens His doors for you to eat and drink from His bounties. In my safe, there is a modest amount of money. Take it and buy some bread to eat, for famine is especially hard and heartless and it may be a sign of the times. Also, in the chest near the corner, there are some coins that you offered as vows and charity. Open the chest, recover your money, and go to the marketplace to buy food for your children. With all truthfulness I tell you, deprived people, that when you take from God, you do not abandon the virtue of giving, for you gave gladly when your vineyards were rich and your jars were full of oil, as you did when your immaculate hands carved the white stones of the temple. During the previous years, you offered what you owned with no parsimony. Thence, you became role models in the villages and cities. For this reason, the temple will not be insulted when it rewards you for your pure souls and hearts which are abundant in the love of God. Indeed, brothers, every stone here speaks out about what you have done in the past and every wall talks about your precious sacrifices. Your trade was fruitful and you did not bury your treasures under the soil, so carry the profits that you receive from the altar of the righteous God. Go home feeling elated and dance because God knows you in the times of happiness and sadness and does not ignore you when you are in need of Him. But, do not say in the presence of others, 'God gave us', since he who takes must take silently and he who gives must also give silently. And if the wealthy ask you how you acquired money after becoming destitute, do not answer, for if you tell the truth, many of them will come to this temple to lie to God and act like the needy. They will want to take as you did in order to add to their fortunes, no matter how meager this amount may be. These people, my brothers and children, are insatiable even when they have all the world’s treasures in their hands. You feel hungry in the days of famine, but they have felt hungry since the day they were born and their hunger will not end until they die.”

 

21- Freedom

Not knowing freedom means that you are ignorant and come from the tribes of snow and idleness. Not glorifying freedom and not allowing it to sanctify you means that your temples are made of ashes and your dreams are made of dust. Freedom is the celestial love that overwhelms you and allows you to make miracles to revive the dead and heal the paralyzed. Freedom is the mother who gave you life, nourished you with her milk, taught you how to speak and think, and wrote your names in the book of immortality. It is the morning that rises before your eyes, so embrace the morning before it flees and you become one with nonexistence.

They will tell you in the gatherings that freedom is only a word that was derived from coincidence and has no meaning in Holy Scriptures. They will also tell you that if you free yourselves from slavery and compliance, then you obey the call of revolt and that revolt is created by devils. And the people who say these things are those who look at the sun without seeing it, for they wear masks which are made of the threads of darkness and answer to the cry of silence. They want you to walk on the paths of your ancestors who were forced to kiss the hand that killed them and accept the sword that extended over their necks. Those who hate your freedom are slaves of the ancient doctrines that were created by regimes. But you were born in the storms. No law can cuff you and no death can take your places. Those who prohibit you from speaking, writing and reading are the guardians of the cells where eternal obscurity and cawing crows dwell. They are the ones who tarnish their hands with the blood of children and the agony of angels. Those who control your tongues and forbid you from loving your wives and celebrating with your children are the descendants of sinful beliefs which were written by hands of evil in the elapsed eras. The advocates of these beliefs are still born and die on disassembled beds, spreading woe and ruin.

Freedom contradicts death. Freedom reflects the luminous planets, while death reflects the bleak graves. To freedom belongs the rustling of leaves, while death owns the bare autumn. Freedom has singing rivers, while death has ruins and ghosts. Go on with light and melody and throw from your hands the rusty shackles. Be naked as the truth and roar like the sweeping rivers. And every time somebody asks you about where you live, what you eat and drink, and why you are nude like the rocks, say, “We live in the soul of God and our fates are written in the book of eternity. We eat the bread of life and drink the scent of the field's tulips. We are naked because the wind of courage does not scorch those who cover their bodies with clothes and because the light of virtue does not embrace their faces. Freedom created us just as a peasant makes a plow to crack the ground, like the birds create a song to smash the hunter’s rifle and like the child makes a paper boat to conquer the oceans. We are the children of freedom. If we deny it, life denies us and throws us into obscurity. We love our freedom, for it liberated us from illusion and confusion and provided us with a weapon to kill idleness and to revolt against the grotesque shadows.”

I truly say to you, my beloved, that the feeling which distances you from freedom is fear. If you are to overcome this enemy that lurks within you, you ought to make your swords from fire and stab it in the heart. When your fear dies, you will feel pain and you will agonize, as a part of you becomes dead, but if you stab your fear without leaving it dead, it may be reborn within you to control, enslave and shatter your souls. Courage is the instrument with which you eliminate fear and ambush your submission. The man who does not have courage will remain obedient and servile, and the storms will encircle him, tossing his corpse onto the footpath. Revolt against those who handcuff you and use your hearts as weapons for confrontation. If you do not free your souls, nobody else will. And when you become strong, glorify the strength of your spirits and build a temple in which you may praise your victory and offer your prayers to the God of freedom.

 

22- Happiness

Many speak of happiness and boast about the enjoyment they have felt at weddings and feasts. They also refer to a man who is happy and proclaim that he is so because his land gave him generously and ensured his prosperity. Tell these people that the happiness which fleetingly comes and goes is an incomplete form of happiness. Continual happiness is the satisfaction you have with your life. This satisfaction does not change regardless of the seasons and circumstances.

I know a peasant who rejoices when his field yields plenty of fruit and also when his well is empty and his plants are destroyed by storms, for just as giving is from God, taking is also from Him. This peasant who rejoices much and is saddened at times is one of the chosen noble men. I know another man who escaped death while his colleagues died. He rejoiced his escape. How miserable is his happiness! I know a third man who endangered his life in order to save a few strangers from a vicious storm. How generous is his happiness despite it being a fleeting one! I know a fourth man who was flooded with happiness after a fisherman saved him from the sea when he was on the verge of drowning. The grateful man offered the fisherman a field to plant and a house to reside in with his wife and children. This man who returns a good deed with a good deed is a great man, for he could not give from his soul but gave instead from his wealth. I also know a woman who rejoices because her husband loves her and she loves him. Their love is a baptism and an eternal chronicle.

As for sadness, you should not hate it and you should not walk with it in your weakness and defeat. Sadness purifies the soul and makes you saintly, but incessant sadness is suicide. Rejoice, O people, for God created you and freed you, while He did not free many others. He gave you good children, husbands and wives. He also provided you with minds that create and think and with eyes that can see into the distance. He blessed you with ultimate love. Rejoice, for you love and sing for wisdom. Wisdom is the book that enriches you and protects you from all harm. Rejoice, for you look at the rising sun and the night that vanishes. You enjoy the spring and the summer and you bless the winter and the thunder. Rejoice, for you have eternal souls that never die, even when time runs out, and if one assumes that his death is the end, he will endure a life of perpetual sadness and does not deserve his birth.

I truly say to you that those who wish to surrender choose to be defeated by the ferocious wind instead of defeat it... Blessed are the sorrowful, for God will compensate their sadness with great happiness. Blessed are the joyful who do not hurt anyone but spread their happiness to others. Indeed, happiness is a banquet for the hungry and thirsty. How blessed are those scientists, poets, artists, woodchoppers and carpenters who enriched our lives with happiness! And how dreadful are those rulers, tyrants, and tormentors who filled our lives with sadness!

When you rejoice, you should realize that this joy may be shrouded with grief. Let your sadness last only for moments and your happiness last for days. This is how you thank life and appreciate what God has unconditionally offered you while asking for nothing in return.

23- Numbers

You are wrong when you talk about numbers and when you count how much fruit and crops you have in your fields and how much harvest you have on your threshing floors. You are wrong when you calculate your money after returning from the market and after you buy or sell. You are also wrong when you count your wives and children, for numbers are illusions created by science and adopted by the materialistic world, while the truth is that numbers are false.

How many times has one of you said that he and his wife are one and that no one can separate them? You also say that the man and the woman are two, but they are unified as a single and inseparable soul, mind and body. You look at yourselves and discover that you are bodies, souls, hearts and thoughts, but in fact, you are no more than one. Anyone can be more than one, a husband, a brother, a grandfather and a grandchild, but he is still no more than one.

You may think that the seasons are four, but they are one season that wears different clothing, and you may imagine that the flower and its perfume are two different things, just as you distinguish between the sky and its color, the bird and its song, and the lake and its water. You may also claim that the trail which leads you up the hills is different than that which takes you down to the deep valleys, and you argue that the sea is larger than the spring and more generous than a rivulet.

Those who struggled to teach you the numbers made you contradict

yourselves and separate between singular and plural, and when the mind defeats the soul, Man makes mistakes, as he does when the soul defeats the mind.

You learned to count the trees, the mountains and the sea sand, and you did not consider that which is more profound than the naked truth. The reality is that you look but do not see, you hear but do not listen, and you cannot find the right answer. If you set balance between the material realm and the soul, you may easily discover that looking at different objects does not mean that they are not one object. God is like this, not limited by science and numbers. Do not look at Him only with your thoughts, but also with your souls to discover that He is one. And if you hear some saying that He is not only one, ask them about that statement and wait for them to answer. He could be one and more than one altogether. Do not rush to judge, for your findings may be wrong if you rely soley on your eyes to discover the truth. And never accuse anyone of deception, for your accusations can cause disputes and conflicts within society. How horrible is the discrimination that stems from rigid views, deficient souls and frozen hearts!

 

24- Faith and Blasphemy

A group of men brought an infidel to the temple and were planning to kill him there. I scolded them and forbade them from doing so. I then asked the persecuted man, “Why are you an infidel, son?”

He answered, “I am not an infidel, but I worship a God who is different from their God.”

“Who is the God whom you worship?” I questioned.

He replied, “I worship a God whom I found through my conviction. I pray to Him from the bottom of my heart and with the deepest emotion. I practice charity to help society and I feel secure in my life and in my coming death.”

I asked the group of men, “Why did you sentence this man to death?”

They angrily replied, “He disobeyed our doctrine and betrayed our trust, so should we keep him alive?”

I yelled at them, “May God forgive you, my beloved but ignorant children. Do you not know that this man whom you oppress disrespects my doctrine too? His religion may not resemble my religion, but I do not indict him. Rather, I receive him in my temple, offer him food and drink, and invite him to attend the feast so he heartily rejoices and celebrates.”

“Are you not the guardian of religion, O priest? You also disrespect the faith and contradict religion,” the men argued.

I responded, “No, my children. It is the anger that reigns within your hearts which guides you toward killing and punishment. I ask you one by one, who was a judge or a righteous ruler in the past? Who received authorization from God to defend Him and punish those who disrespect Him? From which court did you attain the right of trial and conviction? Look at the birds and how they praise God without referring to a book. Look at the tree and how it raises its arms to pray to the beloved Lord. Look at the waves and how they chant their eternal prayers without entering a temple or knowing how to kneel. God requires your worship and blesses your existence, and you should love Him without asking for anything in return, for the temples are not places for buying and selling. If you see other people loving God and reaching Him in a way which is different from yours, do not curse them because they are your brothers in religion, although you are not aware of this. God may be more content with them than He is with you. God does not require your religion, but your faith.”

The men were disturbed. They raised their swords to slaughter the silent and sad man. I rushed to stand in between the two parties and said to the group, “Return your swords to your sheathes or you will have to kill me before you kill an innocent man. You are not going to punish thousands of men and women who live in forests and worship the sun, moon and trees. God made us different and this difference is a reflection of His wisdom. If we strive to be one nation, we disrespect that wisdom and contradict God’s will. I truly say to you, my zealous children, that if someone comes to this temple and denies the existence of God in front of me, I will not show anger and will not hurt him. Instead, I will treat him kindly and try to show him the existence of God. If I manage to convince him, his conviction will be his second birth and if I fail to convince him, his disbelief should not lead to his death. Judgment should not be delivered by humans who make mistakes, but by the righteous God who is free from error. God has sent us many prophets and this is a sign of His wisdom. He could have sent one prophet and told us all to follow this prophet to have one religion without any conflict. Meanwhile, our disputes surrounding the prophets and the questions regarding the true prophet’s identity have made us fall victim to horrible atrocities and bloody wars. And we, in this region, have paid a huge price for futile wars, the smoke of which still rises in the sky.”

The group of men looked at each other, returned their swords to their sheathes and dispersed with some whispers. The innocent man was kneeling on the steps of the temple and saying, “Tell me, Master, who is the God you worship, for I want to worship Him until I die?”

 

25- The Soul of the Good

They tell you about the good, and it is not far from you. It is in front of you, on your way, in your houses and in the pubs. Yet, at many times, you do not listen to its voice and you do not respond to its temptation.

The good can exist in the clear day and in the storm, in richness and in hunger, yet evil does not exist but in sin. If you do good, leave it behind you and do not let it follow you, for if you walk with the good that you did, your reward will shrivel and your favor will diminish. If you hear that someone does neither good nor evil, ask him about the meaning of his life, for there is no place for the person who does not practice good or evil. The one who carries out both good and evil is better than many others. Hence, if you say that he is an evil man, you only look with one eye. It is better to say that he is a man who covers his bad acts with his good deeds. He is not an accursed Satan or a wise angel. I say to you with all truthfulness, no evil man is free from goodness and no good man is free from evil. The good and the evil embrace each other as the rose clasps the breeze. How great is the man who does more good than evil!

You may have heard about the selfish one who takes and does not give, as giving makes him suffer. I truly say to you that the selfish person suffers because he does not satisfy those who need him, and when he unknowingly gives, his giving has no value, for it is not done consciously. You may have also heard from some thinkers that Man was born with the good and will die with it but that when he becomes needy, he may kill or rob to stay alive. And I ask you while you forgive the crime of a needy person, what is the difference between this evil sinner and the one who is bitten by his need, thirst and hunger, yet prefers death over committing evil? Some other thinkers told you that if you love God so much, you practice goodwill but that you do not submit to evil when you do not love God. How dreadful is he who expressed this notion, for loving God is the value and core of goodness! And when you put a piaster in the hand of a poor man, you do not take this piaster from your pocket, but from the hand of God.

You may learn how to do good and teach it to your children, despite it being innate within you, similarly as poetry is inborn in the poet and as color is natural in the forest. This nature can be both unfortunate and generous at times, but overall, it is a tender and giving nature. Blessed be those who give a little from the little that they have and blessed be those who give a lot from the lot that they have. The good defeats the evil in their souls, and the good lifts them to the rank of the nobles and geniuses.

 

26- The Truth

The most obvious reality is that you do not know the truth, as there is no complete truth, and if the truth is incomplete, it is actually a kind of lie. Why do you insist that you know more than others? Why do you think that other people are ignorant and that God gave them less than He gave you? And why do you shamelessly raise your voice when you claim to speak the truth?

Arrogance leads you to believe that you are better than the birds in the sky, more useful than the creatures of the forest, and more peaceful than the roses of the garden. Modesty, on the other hand, sets a clear mirror before your eyes such that when you look at yourselves, you discover that you are no greater than many of the trivial things which you generally disregard.

You have learned to interpret nonexistence as nothingness, but I truly tell you that nothingness is something which does exist, for you would not call it nothingness if it did not. You have also learned that the elements which constitute the universe are earth, water, fire and air. Do you know what could possibly exist in the place which is unreachable by your minds and hearts? Do you know that nothingness is material? More than that, nothingness is the origin of the substance that you feel and see.

Everything you look upon did not exist in the beginning of time until the hand of a genius created it. The artist himself gives you limited knowledge and hides many details that you need to know. You look in vain for this knowledge until your minds hit a bunged wall. How many people wanted to see the complete picture but failed in despair? Some of them even lost their minds in the process. If they had been wise, they would have saved themselves from this onerous task and believed that all which exists is a small portion of what really exists. Still, their minds are incapable of comprehending the hidden aspects that God has concealed from their sight.

Many people claim that they know or that knowledge exists somewhere. Tell them that the knowledge which they speak of is nothing more than the insufficient little, while complete knowledge is a dream which can never be explained. No philosophy and no science can achieve full reality. Truth is the sky that no bird can reach, no matter how far its wings expand. Truth is the sea that no sailor, no matter how strong, can control from all directions. Do not be ashamed to say that you do not know, for when you say so, you reveal your modesty to others. Be assured that your knowledge is nothing but of the very least, whereas great truth does not belong to and is not ruled by anyone.

 

27- The Forest’s Settler

I encountered a man who lives in the prairies, wears torn clothing and eats grass. I asked him about his name. He said, “My name is Sin. From sin I was born and in sin I will die.”

I asked him, “Who are your parents?”

He replied, “My parents are the storm, the rain and the chill.”

I further questioned him, “Where do you sleep?”

He answered, “I sleep in large valleys where I cover myself with the wailing of the forest and roaring of the rivers.”

I was amazed by the man’s response and I asked him, “Why do you not live like others? Why don't you build a house for yourself, wear fine clothing, get married, and raise children?”

He said, “I do not need all of that. The house is a tomb and clothes are the coffin. Marriage separates me from my loneliness, making me live and die far from my solitude.”

I asked the man, “Are you one of the devils?”

He laughed for a while and then said, “Devils do not reveal themselves to people, but I do. Devils do not feel thirsty or hungry, but I do. That is why you see me eating from the fields and drinking from the springs. Jinns are better than humans because they do not kill each other and do not rush toward death and loss. I fled society to live with the jinns. They see me, but I do not see them. They hear me singing in the night and they come to the dance floor where they dance naked, for clothing imprisons them in eternal darkness. I speak the truth; I love jinns and I wish I were one of them.”

I stared with pity at the man and said, “You are fleeing the real world to live in a world of imagination and illusion. I was able to understand this by looking at your troubled eyes and your lifestyle in the prairies. You resemble the Sufis who take refuge in the wild to avoid humans, while humans who reside in places that are unseen by your eyes, build houses, send airplanes beyond the horizon, and invade galaxies and planets. They create material from their souls, and the soul without material is nothing; it is void.”

The man gazed at me with a sense of mockery and derision, exposing his peculiarly large blue lips and uneven teeth. He scolded me and said, “Did you come to me, evil man, to free me from my principles and make me return to my deserted values, of which nothing remains save painful memories that rage within my soul?”

I calmed the man down and explained to him, “I am not evil; I am the priest in the temple that embraces light and justice.”

He took a step backward, just as the shade slowly withdraws before the shining sun to vanish. But when the man realized I had a smile on my face and sincerity in my language, he stood in his place and listened to what I had to say. I spoke softly and asked, “Do you know that your ancestors traveled to the far universe in capsules and met people who live in unknown planets? You may assume that I am joking, but this generation will not end before you see these people and converse with them. I truthfully say to you that those who make for us the chairs, beds and machines that we need are far better than those who sit under the shadow of delusion and yawn in the tents of indolence.”

The man’s face turned pale. He looked deeply at the sky and asked, “Is it true that there are people on another planet?”

I immediately replied, “Did somebody tell you that these people do not exist? Did you read in any book that waiting for their arrival is a sin and that talking about them is a transgression? Some preachers have convinced you that you are the only one who is able to understand reality and that you must obey tradition in order to have life under their control, to adhere to their way and to die as they wish. They drew a route of illusion and you walked along it, thinking that it was the route leading to God, but God exists only in the light, and if God wanted you to be a tree branch or a tiny insect, you would have been one of them. Instead, His will was for you to be human and to think and wake up tomorrow being different from what you are today. In this era, you observe several people who preach to you about happiness, convincing you to settle in deep caves and wear rugged clothes, and they may ask you to kill for pleasure. Be cautious when dealing with such people because they are blind guides. I honestly tell you that the happiness which many people seek is close to them. Furthermore, there are some who lecture about God, even though they are the most distant from Him. Some of them speak on His behalf, as if He does not know how to think and speak, and some others pretend to love Him, while they whip His children and leave them with the pungent taste of bitterness.”

The forest settler stared at me in silence as I spoke. Shortly after, he asked, “How can I believe you?”

I replied, “Go with me to the city to see the carpenters, locksmiths, bakers and traders working and praising the Lord with angelic voices. These, my brother, are true believers who do not act or lie, while many others talk about the daylight although their hearts are full of darkness. How ugly is the human who wears clothes that do not belong to him and speaks from his mouth, instead of the bottom of his heart!”

The man looked at me with fear and doubt. I assumed a great deal of surprise overcame him. The hair of his beard shivered and his eyes widened. He said, “I will not go back to the city, for its citizens oppressed me and banished me from their homes. They were greedy, not even offering me a drop of water. Here, in the forest, I find sufficient food and drink, and nobody oppresses me. Here, I practice freedom.”

I shook my head as a sign of acceptance because I could not force the man to live a life he does not want. Despite his ignorance, he reminded me of the dreamy romantics who wander in the forests and prairies pretending to cry so as to attract pity. Their grandfather, Rousseau, was one of the most committed defenders of the forest culture, but Rousseau did not realize that the forest is also a place for evil. The devil is not related to certain places, but to human nature. One can be innocent in the city and be a villain in the desert. In the olden days, people used to fight each other with stones and arrows, and today, they kill each other with rifles and cannons. The means have changed, but human nature remains the same. How many wars erupted in previous centuries all while people lived in prairies and caves and slept under tree branches?

The man of the forest whom I was talking to was far better than Rousseau, for if Rousseau was convinced that the forest is a good place to dwell, he would have lived there instead of the city. I left the man of the forest lost in his native world and I walked toward the city of noise and machinery that grinds the hands of time. I praised the mind and soul and sang for the knowledge which saved Man from darkness and provided him with light. Meanwhile, I cried for those who refused to advance, for they imprisoned themselves behind the threads of dimness, wore ragged clothing, carried rods, and rode donkeys and horses. Those who lived this way resembled spiritless stones and deserved the mockery of their fate.

 

28- Killers with Swords

You will see, in the coming years, men carrying their swords and threatening the sun. These men wear foolishness and carry ignorance as their supply and tool. These men are the enemies of humanity, vision and progress. They will emerge in front of you on the rocky paths and ask you about your names, cities and spouses. Tell them that you are the children of God and that you have no names, just as the faraway galaxies have no names. If they ask you, “In whom do you believe?”

Say to them, “We believe in the grain of soil, the roots, the sky and the nude trees, for they are all created by the hands of the One. We embrace advancement, for it belongs to the Creator’s mind, and we exalt the wind that invades the forest to change and strip it bare, allowing it to evolve from its nudity into new existence.”

Yes, my children, darkness will reign on earth, civilization will be intimidated, lamps will be extinguished amidst celebrations of dance and entertainment, music will be cursed, and the malicious will step on literature, philosophy and science. Yet, this will only occur for a short period of time, as the Lord has entrusted you with the flame of life, and the army of death will not attempt to put out this flame but to generate more life and hope. Look at the thorns in the fields and how they flourish despite their roughness. Look at the clouds and how they provide you with water in spite of their gloom. Look at how they make your vineyards rich in grapes and how they fill your springs, rivers and seas with water to drink and to offer the thirsty. The world proceeds toward the future, and like the earth are your souls. Nobody proceeds toward the past except for those in whom dimness reigns, preventing them from seeing any beauty. Time, my brothers and sisters, moves by the power of God. Who can prevent the word of God from being the truth and the source? Who dares fight the light that is far and unreachable? Who will stop you from walking on the planets to find those who may talk and listen to you?

You will see cities destroyed and temple doors broken. Owls will be hooting on the windows of these temples and hyenas will be taking refuge under the temples' roofs. You will also see thousands of people sleeping in the prairies and homeless people residing in caves and deserts. Do not cry for them, but arm them with the strength to stand firmly by their faith. Tell them that crying about the past is ignorance and that lamenting does not create glory. The tyrants may oppress or kill you and hang your bodies on gibbets, but you should smile when you die, for you smash the doors of slavery through your death and shatter the thorns of darkness. Your death is like the death of a flower and like the splash of a wave onto the sand.

The fate of those whose hearts are filled with hatred is despair and desolation. Their lives are full of misery, their deaths are defeat, and their final dwelling place is an eternal ditch in which there is nothing but silence and loneliness.

 

29- Your Countries

Every time you grow more distant from your countries, they become closer to you because your countries settle in your hearts. In fact, freedom is your homeland. Hence, wherever you go, do not ask about the land, the sky and the seas, and do not ask, “Who governs this country and its citizens?” Rather, find out if the sky is larger than your endless dreams.

When you discover that your wings cannot transcend the highest reaches and they hit the dark walls, train your wings to exceed the limits and the oceans. If the boundaries are small, you ought to dwell in imagination and sail to islands that the passing ships cannot reach. There, you will stay with your silence and prayers. Truly, I say that silence is the most beautiful worship, and prayer is the most delightful happiness.

Your eternal innocence exists only where you dwell unclothed and are not told to cover your nudity, for your bodies are not sinful, but sins exist in the eyes and hearts that lust.

Should you go to a distant country, teach its citizens how to play the flute and sit with them on the ground to let them know how humble you are. If they offer you lands to sow and harvest, save for their children a portion of the crops, for the owner of the land deserves to be rewarded by his land.

You will always remember your homeland which you carry in your souls. Indeed, the voices of your grandfathers and fathers follow you on the wind of the storms, so exalt the wind that resounds the voices of your ancestors, but do not be misguided by your emotions, for emotions can destroy you and leave you tarnished like discarded peels.

Because your nation is freedom, do not forbid others from their freedom. Be free like the springs and luminous like the lamps that erase the bleakness of the night. How plentiful are those who call for freedom while they are locked in steel cages, and how very many are the enemies of freedom who pretend to be its defenders! Do not act like those who think they can fly as the birds, yet have broken wings.

Do not beg your countries to give you because they give you and you need not ask. Offer your countries from your hands and always take into account that there are many hungry people who do not ask you for bread and many homeless people who do not ask you for clothes. Take your countries with you wherever you go, for your countries are not made of soil and water. Your countries are limitless existence. Your countries are you, and without you, there is no meaning for these places.

 

30- A Call for Freedom

Return to your existence, for your absence resembles misery. Do not argue with pigeon sellers, but take the temple from them. Take it to a place beyond desire. Why should you always remember the date of your transgression? Why should you swallow the bitterness of your defeat? Why should you give your bread to those who do not deserve anything but hunger? Why should you die on beds of solitude after being stabbed in the chest?

Freedom calls you to its harvest and the spring offers you the soft scent of perfume, so make clothes for yourself from its lights and gather from the wind the bread of offering. Carry the flower to its field, the fountain to its singing, and your life to your bodies. Transform water into wine.

Do not believe that the sea is larger than a drop of tears on your faces and that the shivering hand cannot shatter the winter. Do not believe the nightfall, for it is ancient like the centuries and is disguised like thieves, while you are clear like the writing on the lines, which is deeper than imagination and more profound than a rose. You resemble the daylight that breaks the sword and bends death’s might. They told you that you were born without wings and that your feet cannot chase thunder. They also told you that your sins are hung to your walls and tree leaves. Thus, you are to be calm like the grass of the field.

If you are the past, who will follow you in the years to come ? If you

are the present, what was the past? You are all the time which was created long before Adam and which will never end. You have hands that can destroy the highest walls, guide the road to itself, bring the morning to its light, and unveil the planets from the veil of obscurity.

Demolish the cages and destroy the winged statues as well as the lauds of impostor Pharisees. Revolt against your illicit silence and need for food and water in order to elevate yourselves from the craters of cowardice to the glory of resurrection. Fear does not inspire birth; death does not produce life; drought does not create a forest. In the still lake, there is nothing but the nothingness that covers itself with water. Build from your ribs a temple for the God of the sun who created your foreheads to be higher than the sun and whiter than the wings of the angels.

 

31- Your Thoughts

You walk and your thoughts walk ahead of you, guiding you to the homeland of the good. Thoughts are the mirrors on which the love of God is reflected. Thus, neither does God exist in the man who has rigid thoughts, nor does this man exist in the spirit of God.

Some people have thoughts that ignite. These are the trustees of the world's treasures. From their hands, the crops flourish in abundance, and from their minds and hearts, the universe receives a ray of illumination. These are the ones who lead you to a clear tomorrow. When they knock on your doors, do not say that you do not recognize them, for you recognize them without knowing, and before your eyes is that which they have created for you out of stones, metal and ink. Their eyes look toward the sky and into the creation of God that is bounded neither by time nor space. Let them enter your homes and listen to them. Give them your clothes to wear and light your fireplaces to offer them warmth. If they ask you for a place to rest, offer them your beds and sleep on the floor, for they have not slept in a long time, while you have.

Glorify the thoughts of poets because they pour into your glasses a dateless wine and they provide you with an inextinguishable flame and endless love. Praise the musicians who lift you to the highest summits with divine wings. Dance with the singers while they tenderly chant sweet lyrics and hum soft melodies. Commend the inventors, for they built walls between you and the storms, and so, you became sheltered from the harshness of nature.

Furthermore, do not listen to those who drag your thoughts backward with their archaic views, but rather, desert their temples and leave them to become blighted by dust. These preachers do not deserve to be given your attention and do not understand that the sailing boat does not cruise toward the past and that the sun does not limp. How dire are those who curse the light when they are in need of it to evade the dimness of their rusty beliefs? How awful are those who dislike traveling to new shores, even after their ports become dry and they are left with dying waves and no boats?

The creative mind brings you closer to the divine world, while curses and profanity are the fate of arid thoughts. Those who preach these kinds of thoughts are unable to free themselves from failure, for failure is written on their foreheads.

 

32- Clothes and Food

Your clothes are peels that cover you the same way peels cover a fruit. You do not wear your clothes, but instead, you wear your nudity, for you were born nude and you shall die this way. You rush to buy clothing and take pride in what you wear in the feasts. Without you, tailors would die from hunger, and so, you benefit them when you embellish yourselves with clothing.

If you did not fear revealing your naked bodies, you would not have covered them with clothes, but would have wandered in the forests and prairies like tribesmen and exposed your clear and pure bodies with no fear. The shame is not in your bodies, but in those who desire the flesh. So, if eyes offend your nudity, abandon your nudity to protect yourself from being devoured by the eyes of others. They do not adore your souls or the virtues that you embrace. They only desire the naked bodies that satisfy them. The body is lethal to the body and the soul is life for the soul. It is beautiful when a man loves and desires a pretty woman and when she loves and desires him, but what is right is that he also loves her soul, for the soul is a body without clothing. The soul is the melody that transforms the cold poem into a song on the lips.

Meanwhile, you gather the food from your threshing floors and fields and store it for winter. Your fear of starvation is what makes you hungry. Save from your harvest that which satisfies you, not that which creates excessive fullness. If you feed a hungry person, you are charitable in the eyes of God. If you feed others before you eat, you are better than the charitable. If you are hungry but give all the food you have to a hungry person who knocks on your door, then you are better than the most charitable.

If you see a poor man on your way, do not rejoice that God made you rich, but have regret for the poor man who has to live in poverty. Do not fear hunger when you are healthy. Fear it when you are sick and unable to work. God provided you with bodies and souls that do not hunger, yet you altered these bodies and souls, allowing them to become subjects of fear.

Give your houses to strangers and open your stores to the needy so that fear will desert your homes for good. You will discover that God will not allow you to suffer from hunger. He will come to you during the night to put treasures near your beds and holy bread on your tables so that you may eat, and hunger no more.

 

33- A Temple for all People

You may wonder, my beloved, why I opened the doors of my temple to all people. This was done because God gathered you to keep you from becoming separated and dispersed because the differences among you are marks of wisdom. You were born into and embraced a certain religion, not because you chose this religion, but because your parents and grandparents embraced it. And following your birth, nobody asked you about the religion you prefer to uphold. Accordingly, religions are not brick houses with locked doors. When you worship God, your worship is your religion and it is not important how you pray. And those who told you that the religion of others is false are the rich temple merchants who are still insatiably collecting money and wearing their haughtiness as shields.

I truthfully say to you that the peasant who works in his field prays to the God of his land; the sailor who sails his boat into the far ocean prays to the God of the sea, and each of the artists, dancers and factory workers has his own beloved God, but all these Gods are, in fact, one God. So, love your God as he loves you, and do not say, “Why did You give others more than what You gave us?” He may have given you more than He gave them, but you do not realize it. Moreover, He may have granted them many things, but they could be unhappy with what they have, while you are happy with the little you possess.

Many people take plenty and are unhappy, whereas others receive a little, yet are content with this small amount. And there are many people who do not grow satisfied, even when they become corpses inside their tombs. They extend their hands from behind the steel bars of their graves, for their souls are weak and they pretend to be impoverished, despite having left their money in safes to be blanketed by dust and rust.

Be always like brothers in the Soul's Temple, and not one of you ought to ask the other where he is from and who his father and mother are. The faithful one does not ask anyone about his origin and religion, for origin is one, just as religion is one in all places.

 

34- Tolerance

I stand up on the mountain top. I leave blood behind. My ancestors did not bequeath upon me but this rivulet and smile of the vineyard. It was possible for me to have horns on my head and hooves on my feet. It was also possible for me to have a head made of copper, with which I am able to demolish walls, destroy cities and spread dust. But in my head, there is a soft melody, and in my ears, there are gentle songs of the sea.

I offer you the heritage of the chosen ones. I lead you to burn the traditions of tribes, for revenge is defeat and vengeance is disease. When you show tolerance, you ascend toward God with bodies of light and you tread on the planets. And when you hate, you lock your souls in the dens of darkness and your hearts become smaller than coffins. When you forgive, you rise with the wings of angels, and if you seek revenge for perishable blood, you dye your life black and never leave funerals.

 

35- The Female Stranger

My people oppressed a man for marrying a woman belonging to another religion. They mocked and stoned him. He was fearful and rushed to my temple to seek my advice and to ask me if he should divorce his wife in order to save himself from punishment. He said to me with tears in his eyes, “I do not know how to act. Am I right or wrong? Does my religion forbid me from choosing the woman who will be the mother of my children?”

I waited for the man to finish his words, and then I asked him to recount his story from the beginning and to tell me why he chose this woman and preferred her over all the other women in the area.

While weeping from his woe, he said, “My first wife passed away long ago and life became very difficult. Taking my children with me, I moved to another continent to work and earn some money. I struggled a great deal in the foreign country and this began to take effect on my appearance. My hair turned gray and the autumn drew the traces of storms and thunder on my face. Here I stand before you, a man agonized by the bitterness of time. After a while, I lost my job in the foreign land and I lived in poverty after my dreams had withered. I packed my luggage once again and returned to this place, owning nothing but severe disappointment and deep sorrow.”

The man stopped talking to take a deep breath. I asked him, “Did you find here those who compensate your loss and revive hope in your soul?”

He replied, “Reverend Father, you speak as though you settle in my heart and feel what I endure. I came back to my people, but I found them to be harsh and cruel. They celebrate the suffering of the weak and mock the man who becomes a victim. They blocked every path set in front of me and treated me like a lowly servant who asks hopelessly for food, clothes and shelter.”

I assured the man, “They could be incapable of helping you, so you should not blame them.”

The man defended, “Am I blaming the needy who do not own anything to give? I am blaming those who live in their lofty castles. They used to know me before I moved to the faraway continent and they would knock on my door for help, and so I rushed to help them. They asked and I gave them from what I had in my hands. I thought they would appreciate my favor. I spent many days knocking on their doors and asking for help. No one opened his door or offered me a drink of water. Master, I have discovered that they accept from the doctrine only that which benefits them and that having empathy for others is not of their business or nature.”

“What about your children? What do they do?” I asked.

He responded, “My children have graduated from universities. I wanted them to work in their fields of profession but they are now working in factories... We must stay alive.”

I questioned, “Did you not ask those people who know you to employ your children?”

The man explained, “Believe me, Father, my children are cut from a

tree. Nobody looked after them. You know that there are numerous work opportunities in this area after the war ended and development projects began to increase. All those whom you and I both know ignored my children and were not concerned about our need for work in order to start a new life. We could have died of starvation without the help of that woman.”

“Are you referring to the woman you married?” I asked.

He responded, “Yes, a female stranger who does not embrace my religion. One of my sons was looking for work. He went to her office to inquire, although he did not know her. She did not require any staff to work with her, but nonetheless, she asked him about himself. He told her our story and about how we were defeated by odds. At that point, she felt remorseful and promised him that everything would be settled. After a few days, she offered him a job, pretending to be in dire need of a young man like him to work at her office. He knew that she was only acting so that he would not feel her compassion and sympathy after she had learned our story.”

I replied, “She is a noble woman, and nobleness is not related to any religion or commitment. It may exist in an animal that rushes to protect its owner when he faces danger. Nobleness may not exist in a human who is heartless and cruel or who reads only the ink of writing and not that which is in the soul. I am surprised that we label good deeds with the word “human”, although many humans hate, kill and practice vile habits. The wars that you see are nothing but evidence of the savageness of humans who claim to be compassionate. Compassion can exist in small birds or in horses that hurry to save a man from drowning and in dogs that defend homes. On the other hand, compassion cannot exist in a solid conscience that lacks even a ray of the Creator’s light.”

The man added, “You are right, Master. I used to love my religion and took pride in it, supposing it to be the best religion. Now, I believe that the human is more important than religion and that any religion that fails to teach virtues also fails humanity and thwarts hope. I married that woman who is also a widow after I discovered the life in her heart and purity in her soul. Am I wrong?”

I said to the man, “You are not wrong. Rather, you are better than many people I have met, and those who labeled you a sinner and abused you are merely malicious tyrants who left you suffering in the wind and sought their own happiness without even looking at your open wounds and bleeding heart.”

 

36- My Last Commandment

The years passed and I became old. I entrusted the younger priest with the duty of taking care of my people after he had learned much wisdom and was able to teach others. The suburb’s people asked me, “What is your last commandment?”

I replied, “I do not have any commandment now but to let the peace settle and grow in your homes and streets. If you see peace walking along your paths and under your trees, do not say to it, 'You are a stranger. What has brought you here?' Instead, salute peace, talk to it, stay up with it and listen to every word it says, for in its words, there are secrets that you may not easily understand. Yes, my brothers and beloved, the war tired us and brought much hunger, but we did not despair. Yet, we struggled to find happiness and peace. Indeed, this was a difficult struggle. I truly say to you that those who carried their firearms and proceeded to the battlefields to kill or be killed are the most regretful and despaired. The century is a witness to their doings, and time does not reverse and certainly does not erase what hatred has written with the ink of blood and tears. You have been stabbed badly with bayonets; you have had your children taken away from you; you have had your houses engulfed by fire. Where are those who declared war against you now? They are in the caves of regret, and some of them died from sadness and sorrow. Some others are still alive, but the graves settle in their souls. The ones who start the fire with matches burn themselves with matches, and those who make peace with peace have eternal joy. Make peace, my brothers and sisters, and let it be peace that reigns for your children and grandchildren. Plant in every field a tree and light in every home a candle for peace, and raise your prayers to glorify the God of peace. If you hear the god of war calling you, rush to him nakedly and barefooted, and banish him. If he refuses to leave, wrestle him down, put his face in the dust and forbid him from speaking among you. In my remaining years, I will feel no greater joy than that which I feel knowing that the God of peace lives among you and shall never leave you.”