Since I have posted on the topic of "what is not religion," an excerpt from chapter four of the book Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishanmurti, I felt it would be appropriate to visit the other side of the scale and post on what religion is. However, this excerpt from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet (Wordsworth Classics) isn't exactly your conventional definition, either.
(Photo of a musical stage production of "Gibran and the Prophet" performed on an outdoor stage in
And an old priest said, Speak to us of Religion.
And he said:
Have I spoken this day of aught else?
Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor reflection, but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul, even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?
Who can separate this faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?
Who can spread his hours before him, saying, 'This is for God and this for myself; This for my soul and this other for my body'?
All your hours are wings that beat through space from self to self.
He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.
The wind and the sun will tear no holes in his skin.
And he who defines his conduct by ethics imprisons his songbird in a cage.
The freest song comes not through bars and wires.
And he to whom worshipping is a window, to open but also to shut, has not yet visited the house of his soul whose windows are from dawn to dawn.
Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,
The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.
For in reverie you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.
And take with you all men:
For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower than their despair.
And if you would know God, be not therefore a solver of riddles
Rather, look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.
And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.
You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.