Secrets of the Heart

Secret Love © Katie Slaby
This is a 9×12 acrylic done on acrylic specialty paper

Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet, artist, and writer, (1883 -1931) captured in his writing, as so few have done so eloquently, many of the universal truths of our nature as both human and spiritual beings. His grasp of the the inner workings of the human spirit give the reader a sense of lightness and joy when the topic is joyful, and his poetic sensibilities inform every subject that appears in his writing, making him one of the truly timeless spokespersons for the wisdom of any age.

A collection of some of his more popular meditations is entitled, “Secrets of the Heart,” which I often turn to in moments when I feel lost or disoriented by life in the temporal world, and sometimes his words still take me by surprise, even though I have read them many times. Speaking of the beauty in life and in Nature he wrote:

“Beauty is that which attracts the soul…When you meet Beauty, you feel that the hands deep within your inner self are stretched forth to bring it into the domain of your heart…It is the unseen which you see, the vague which you understand, and the mute which you hear…It is the Holy of Holies that begins in yourself, and ends vastly beyond any earthly imagining.”

With these words, Gibran helps us to understand the relationship between the mind of our thoughts and our inner self that transcends the visible world, and that our perception of beauty is a natural result of our longings for something that exists, “vastly beyond any earthly imagining.” In our everyday lives, we often do not perceive the beauty that is right in front of us, and find ourselves either dwelling in the past, thinking perhaps to recapture the happiness or love we experienced years ago, or dreaming of an as-yet- unrealized future in which all of our struggles or sadness eventually fade and our unfulfilled longings will somehow be realized. Gibran puts all of this in perspective by urging us to connect more fully to our inner selves–our human spirit or soul–call it what you will, in order to see the true nature of time:

“Before my Soul spoke to me, I imagined the past as an epoch that never returned, and the future as one that could never be reached. Now I realize that the present moment contains all time and within it is all that can be hoped for, done and realized.”

We tend to be more focused on the temporal aspects of time in our conscious waking state, and imagine that our love can only be truly experienced in the physical world, but Gibran tells us that not only are our most important thoughts and feelings only truly able to be discovered beyond our “earthly imaginings,” but that relating to life in the physical world is but a shadow of what is possible if we extend our hearts and minds and spirits beyond the limited range of what we can see and touch. Since responding to his own spiritual nature and listening to his “soul,” Gibran learned to:

“…touch that which has not become incarnate; my soul revealed to me that whatever we touch is part of our desire. But now my fingers have turned into a mist penetrating that which is seen in the universe and mingling with the unseen.”

When we choose to focus our perceptional talents only on what our physical senses can reveal to us, there is still a vast expanse of beauty and wonder available to us in the natural world of the tangible and predictable, but it is far more limited than the totality of what the universe contains when we open our hearts and minds and spirits to the world within us.

5 thoughts on “Secrets of the Heart

  1. Thank you John. So much peace comes from experiencing (and sharing) Beauty…I wish we all would give each other permission…that is what these words do for me.

  2. Thank you, Jenny. It’s important that we all feel we have permission to experience and share beauty, and your words often do the same for me. I wish everyone who reads my words would feel this same response, and that the ones who resist the opening of their hearts could see how much it means to me to be invited into theirs.

  3. Beautiful post, John. I love it when you share haunting words of wisdom from your favorite writers who all contributed to your fascinating intellect. You’ve always been a remarkable writer yourself and your readers are truly fortunate to get a glimpse of your beautiful mind here and wherever your writing takes you.

    You often refer to Love in its broader sense, but most of us experience it in more categorical circumstances. It is so much more than just opening your heart to others. So I hope to consult you about certain beliefs I still hold about it. For instance, Love entails responsibility, whether we like it or not. A case in point, people who do love me or care for me will do their best to shield my heart from getting bruised or broken because my pain is their pain. I think that makes a lot of sense. Don’t you think so?

    Thanks, John.

  4. Marj,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It’s always good to know that when we write from the heart that others appreciate our efforts. You are very kind to describe my writing in that way.

    I agree that Love in its broadest sense is quite different from the categorical experiences you are referring to for an individual person who loves another, and there are many different categories of Love, and the love we have for our family isn’t the same category as our love for our friends, and very different in the implications for romantic love between two mutually agreeable lovers. But I think that supporting each variety of Love is a much more unifying experience of connection to all living beings, and each of the different kinds of love we can share in the world have this connection in common. For some of us, the transcendent nature of our human connections isn’t really as clear to us as it can be when we are in the throws of its influence.

    You are making a lot of sense when you say that people who love you will do their best to protect your heart for just that reason. When we love someone, if they are suffering for any reason, we tend to feel that suffering too. It would be worrisome if our suffering was not felt in some way by those who care for us. Empathy is a hallmark of all varieties of love, in my view.

    Perhaps I can elaborate further on this subject in another post soon. Thanks so much for your comment and kindness to me……John H.

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