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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 478

The prophet Almustafa often speaks in paradoxes. With the method of offering the negation of the statement just made, he emphasizes different ways of thinking about commonplace relationships or situations: “Your children are not your children.”

While humans cannot get through life without suffering, it is a choice, not just...

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The prophet Almustafa often speaks in paradoxes. With the method of offering the negation of the statement just made, he emphasizes different ways of thinking about commonplace relationships or situations: “Your children are not your children.”

While humans cannot get through life without suffering, it is a choice, not just something inflicted upon oneself. Coming to terms with that suffering requires confronting its source within oneself. In response to a question about “pain,” for example, the prophet tells the people that it is a way of “breaking” barriers that keep one from understanding. He emphasizes as well the need to depend on one’s one resources for true healing, or to be one’s own physician.

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 you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields . . .
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

The multifaceted manifestations and interpretations of human and divine love are examined throughout the book. The prophet constantly encourages people to embrace and seek love within the natural world and not to turn their back on the diverse possibilities of love that the universe presents. Rather than retreating from the world, he suggests, one should go forward, take risks, and be open to the idea that love exists everywhere. While this will inevitably bring some pain—"the sword hidden among his [love’s] pinions may wound you"—if we cannot take the chance of feeling pain and being wounded, then love’s tender rewards will not be bestowed upon us.

. . . let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love . . .

The coming together of individuals is recommended as a true meeting of the spirits of the beloved. In a much-quoted section (which now is often included in marriage ceremonies), the prophet also uses a watery metaphor to advise couples about intimacy, recommending that they allow love to be "a moving sea between the shores of your souls." He goes on to tell them of the value of retaining singularity or "spaces" as well as emphasizing "togetherness"; he draws comparisons to the harmony of music made by a lute’s strings or the strength created by a temple’s multiple pillars.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone . . .
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