Continuing on with how Kahlil Gibran’s book THE PROPHET influenced my thinking: At 17 years of age this quotation below awakened new thought for me. In my Northern-Indiana-highly-Germanic/English-ancestral-upbringing emotional pain was almost never a topic When asked “How are you?” Every one stated that everything was: “Just fine.”
As a Scorpio teenager I yearned to talk about emotions and pain and life’s lessons. There were few opportunities for that. I’m sure this quotation today penetrated my thinking with hula-hoops of anxiety. I was raised in a family of work as hard as you can and if things go wrong–blame someone else for your misfortune. So, this “self-chosen” part of the quotation felt like an accusation.
It wasn’t until I was in therapy in my 20’s and in mastering emotions classes in my 30’s that this quotation had deep meaning for me.
“And a woman spoke, saying, “Tell us of Pain.”
And he said: 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.
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.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen. ― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
We can imagine ourselves in our pain broken open like a peach pit in the sun. When that happens that inner heart-seed in us is prepared to go on to bear new growth and fruit.
As I have watched with horrors and “serenity through the winters of” grief, I do own and know that my pain is self-chosen. I acknowledge it is due to attachment as Buddhist teaching states.