When love beckons you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you, yield to him, though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you, believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. ——On Love
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant. ——On Love
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together,
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow. ——On Marriage
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. ——On Marriage
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. ——On Children
You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls.
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. ——On Children
You give but little when you give of your possesions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ——On Giving
There are those who give little of the much which they have—and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and the joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in givings, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue.
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes he smiles upon the earth. ——On Giving
All you have shall some day be given.
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. ——On Giving
Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the young of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an cat of worship.
And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man. ——On Eating and Drinking
And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup; And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress. ——On Eating and Drinking
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life's procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite. ——On Work
When you work you fulfill a part of earth's furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born.
And in keeping yourself with labor you are in truth loving life.
And to love life through labor is to be intimate with life's inmost secret. ——On Work
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God. ——On Work
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to change all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit, and to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night. ——On Work
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be ?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven ?
And i s not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives ? ——On Joy and Sorrow
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
——On Joy and Sorrow
Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.
For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone. ——On Houses
Your house is your large body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?
Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.
Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments. ——On Houses
Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.
But you, children of peace, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed. ——On Houses
Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast; It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye. You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.
You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is bouldless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night. ——On Houses
Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.
And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain.
Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment. For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind. ——On Clothes
Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.
And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ——On Clothes
To you the earth yields her fruit and you shall not want if you know how to fill your hands.
It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied.
Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed and other to hunger. ——On Buying and Selling
The murdered is not unaccountable for its own murder,
And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.
The righteous is not innocent of the deeds of the wicked, and the white-handed is not clean in the doings of the felon.
And still more often the condemned is the burden-bearer for the guiltless and unblamed.
You cannot separate the just from the unjust and the good from the wicked;
For they stand together before the face of the sun even as the black thread and the white are woven together. And when the black thread breaks, the weaver shall look into the whole cloth, and he shall examine the loom also. ——On Crime and Punishment
If any of you would bring judgment to the unfaithful wife,
Let him also weigh the heart of her husband in scales, and measure his soul with measurements. ——On Crime and Punishment
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to be height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily restruction, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes. ——On Reason and Passion
Surely you would not honor one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.
Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars,sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows——Then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason."
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky——Then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion." ——On Reason and Passion
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. ——On Pain
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. ——On Pain
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen. ——On Pain
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals. ——On Self-Knowledge
No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge. ——On Teaching
The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.
The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he can not give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it. ——On Teaching
For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man. ——On Teaching
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. ——On Friendship
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. ——On Friendship
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. ——On Talking
And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.
In the bosom of such as these spirits dwells rhythmic silence. ——On Talking