Chapter 34: Only a Question of Awareness
Now man finds himself helpless. On both sides there is danger. If he follows nature, all the religions are going to call him a sinner; if he does not follow nature but follows the principles and the doctrines preached by the priests, he is in a constant conflict. He becomes a hypocrite. He pretends to be good - because that is what is respectable, honorable - and from the back door he goes on allowing his nature.
This dualism, this dichotomy, this schizophrenia has destroyed all dignity of man, all his pride. Even wild animals move with a pride, with a natural dignity and grace, but man is so burdened. Everything that is natural in you has been poisoned by the religions. Just a few examples will help you.
All the religions are agreed on one point. They differ in their philosophies, but they don’t differ as far as destroying the dignity of man is concerned: whatsoever is pleasant has to be condemned - this is a simple criterion followed by all - and whatsoever is painful, arduous, has to be praised as virtue, as piousness, as saintlihood.
I have been wandering in this country for almost two decades, meeting all kinds of saints and sinners, and my conclusions are that the sinner is more innocent because he has chosen the path of nature - although he is not respectable. He laughs more heartily, he sings more joyously, he dances like a Zorba, but the whole world condemns him. He is just like a child.
And I have seen your saints; they are all cunning, all hypocrites without exception, because whatever they preach and whatever they show to the world is fake, it is only a mask. Deep down, nature is gathering energy to explode; and if you don’t allow the natural way, then it is going to explode in some perversion.
The whole credit of all the perversions on the earth goes to the religions. No animal in the wild is perverted. Have you come across a deer you can call perverted? - or a lion, or a bird, free in the vast sky, under the sun? Have you come across some bird who needs psychoanalysis, some deer who needs psychiatry, some tree who needs any kind of psychological treatment? They are not perverted because, fortunately, they don’t understand the language that the priests have been speaking; because, fortunately, they are not Christians and they are not Hindus and they are not Mohammedans and they are not Buddhists. A rosebush is just a rosebush, without any adjective to it. You cannot call a rosebush Christian - unless you are mad.
But man has been under the influence of the priests, and they have condemned each single thing in you that can make you smile, that can make you sing, that can make you dance, that can allow your love to blossom. They have crippled you in every way, they have cut your wings, you cannot fly in the sky. They have taken away your freedom, your dignity. And their strategy is to create the idea of evil. Once you are influenced by the idea of evil, you will live your whole life out of fear. Whatever you do, you will be always afraid - who knows whether this is good or evil?
Kahlil Gibran’s whole effort here is to destroy the very foundation of the exploitation of the priests.