And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.
And Almustafa 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.
It is the bitter potion
by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician,
and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard,
is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
and the cup he brings,
though it burn your lips,
has been fashioned of the clay
which the Potter has moistened
with His own sacred tears.
It seems that it is very difficult, even for a man of Khalil Gibran’s caliber, to forget a deep-rooted, male chauvinistic attitude. I am saying this because the statements that Almustafa is going to make are right in a way – but still they miss something very essential.
Almustafa forgets that the question is raised by a woman, and his answer is very general, applicable to both man and woman. But the truth is that the pain and suffering that women of the world have gone through is a thousandfold more than man has ever known. That’s why I say Almustafa is answering the question, but not the questioner. And unless the questioner is answered, the answer remains superficial – howsoever profound it may sound…. The answer seems to be academic, philosophical.
It does not have the insight into what man has done to the woman – and it is not a question of one day, but of thousands of years. He does not even mention it. On the contrary, he goes on doing the same that the priests and the politicians have been doing always – giving consolations. Behind beautiful words there is nothing but consolation. And consolation cannot be a substitute for truth.