“When night came and slumber spread its garment upon the face of the earth, I left my bed and walked toward the sea saying, ‘The sea never sleeps, and in its vigil there is consolation for a sleepless soul.’ …
Then I saw three phantoms sitting upon a rock I stumbled towards them. … The phantoms stood up and in a voice that seemed to rise from the depth of the sea said:
‘Life without Love is like a tree without blossom and fruit. And love without beauty is like flowers without scent. … Life without rebellion is like seasons without spring. And rebellion without Right is like spring in an arid desert. …’
Then the third phantom spoke:
‘Life without Freedom is like a body without a soul, and Freedom without Thought is like a confused spirit’.” ~Kahlil Gibran
Sea of Dreams
The sea in which Gibran say these phantoms is not the Adriatic or the Caribbean. It isn’t a physical sea at all, but the “sea” of dreams. It is that higher dimension that some of us travel to in sleep and bring back knowledge from in the form of dreams.
Not all dreams are of that sort. Many dreams are meaningful, but some are not. It is both an art and a science to learn to tell the difference. It is clear from what the dream phantoms told Gibran that they were meaningful. I find it interesting that Gibran chose dream phantoms to tell us about life.
Life Without Love and Beauty
The phantoms tell Gibran that Life Without Love is like a tree that doesn’t blossom or bear fruit. A tree that has no blossoms and never bears fruit will die leaving no offspring. It will likely never have been admired for its beauty.
A life without love is a wasted life, an empty life. That doesn’t mean we all have to get married and have children. We can love in many ways. The best kind of love is spiritual. It is not loving another person or being for their looks, their money, or even how they treat you. It is loving them because we recognize the spirit in them. We recognize that all spirits are linked, all spirits are part of the One. You cannot help but love other souls and beings when you know they you are part of them and they are part of you. A lack of such recognition is what makes life empty and meaningless.
The beauty part of the equation is more controversial. Some will ask how you can claim to love all if you only love the beautiful. That is because you are not thinking of beauty simply as a physical attribute. There is also spiritual beauty which is more important. Yes, there are those who are not beautiful on that level either. But the spiritual person recognizes that they will change in time and become beautiful as all those who are truly spiritual are. Since time has no real significance, they see those people and lifeforms as beautiful also.
Life, Love, and Freedom
Just as a life without love is barren, so is a life without freedom. But freedom is not just something you have. It is also something you give to other beings. Martin Luther King said no man is free until all men are free. That is true, but it may not go far enough. When we lock animals up in cages and game preserves we are taking away there freedom. By doing so, we damage our freedom.
But if we have love in us we cannot help but grant freedom to other beings. You do not imprison those you love unless it is for their protection. While many will argue that putting animals in zoos is for our entertainment, not their protection, there are exceptions. When a species is becoming extinct in nature, putting a few in zoos may be the only hope they have. Yet even that is imprisonment and should be avoided if possible.