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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   Reflections on Khalil Gibran's The Prophet
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Chapter 21: Leaves of a Single Tree


Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.
But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,
So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.
And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.
Like a procession you walk together toward your god-self.
You are the way and the wayfarers.
And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.
Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who, though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.
And this also, though the word lie heavy upon your hearts:
The murdered is not unaccountable for his 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.
Yea, the guilty is oftentimes the victim of the injured.
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.

The very idea of judging others is absolutely irreligious. But all the religions have committed the crime of judging others. All the religions have given you ideas about what is good, what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, what is virtue and what is sin. They have corrupted you because of these ideas - because the same act may be good in one context and may be bad in another. By a single act, you cannot judge the whole life of a man. And who are you to judge? Who has given you the authority to judge anybody as a saint or as a sinner? You don’t have the eyes to look into the beings of people, into their inner turmoil, into their unconscious longings. All that you can see is their act. But you cannot see their consciousness, and without knowing their consciousness your judgment is not only superficial but inhuman. Your very effort to judge is nothing but a desire to condemn or a desire to praise.

You condemn that which you yourself want to do but are afraid of the consequences; you are a coward. And you praise that which you want to become - it is your desire, your longing, your lust for power, for prestige, for respectability. If you look at yourself, your judgments show much more about you than about the judged.

A man of true understanding is without judgment because he has neither repressed any desire nor has he any lust for power and prestige and respectability. He is clean and pure. How can he judge?

Kahlil Gibran is saying a few very significant things here:

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.

Do you have any idea what is wrong? - because what is wrong in one culture is right in another; what is wrong in one century becomes right in another century. What is right today may not be right tomorrow, and what is right this moment may not remain right the next moment. Life is such a flux - a continuous flow, changing directions, finding a path of which it has no knowledge and moving toward the ocean without any map, any guide.

So is, just like a river, the river of your life.

It happened: the emperor of China made Lao Tzu his Supreme Court chief justice. Lao Tzu tried to persuade him, but in vain: “You will repent if you make me the chief judge of your Supreme Court, because my ways of understanding and seeing are totally different from yours.”

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