And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what it is you guard with fastened doors?
Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?
Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?
Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?
Tell me, have you these in your houses?
Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?
Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.
Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron.
It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.
It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.
Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.
But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.
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 splendor, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is boundless 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.
It is one of the most unfortunate examples that a man like Kahlil Gibran could not get rid of his Christian upbringing. Neither could he be free from the Western unawareness about the real home of man’s soul. He goes on talking about houses as if he has never heard the word home. And unless your house is transformed into a home, you cannot reach the doors of the temple of the divine.
The house is the most superficial thing in your life. The home touches your heart. But you will never be satisfied and wholly contented unless your home becomes a temple of godliness.
It is a great tragedy: he is a great thinker, a great philosopher, and one of the greatest poets that have ever walked on the earth; still he is as poor as anyone else because he does not know the eternal, the ultimate which abides in you.
Almustafa continues and says:
Tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses?
Nobody can have anything in houses. Your houses, if they remain houses, are going to be your graves and nothing else. Yes, they give you a certain security, safety, but they take away so much in return that they leave you as soulless as they are.
There is an ancient story. A king had conquered many kingdoms, and had naturally created many enemies and had killed so many people that slowly, slowly he started becoming afraid that the same could happen to him; he could be assassinated. To protect himself he created a beautiful palace with no windows, just one door. The palace was beautiful, cut out of the best marble.
He was so suspicious and afraid of death that he was not satisfied with one guard – he put seven guards on the gate, in a certain order. The first guard had to be guarded by the second guard, and the second guard had to be guarded by the third guard. He was making it an absolute certainty that no murderer could enter the palace.
One of his friends, also a great king, heard about this beautiful palace, with such impeccable security. He went to see the palace, and the owner of the palace was immensely happy to see his friend. He took him inside and showed him; everything in the palace was a piece of art. And the system of guarding was his invention; never before had it been done. One guard, guarding another… It was a sevenfold measure of security.