The Portrait of… Part V: “On Reason and Passion”

Through Sania and Malika’s poetry seminar last year, “On Reason and Passion,” by Kahlil Gibran, I was exposed to my own “facade,” my own “soul,” my own hypocrisy. This is my personal response to the poem and how it has contributed to the recognition and development of my facade and soul.

“On Reason and Passion”

Kahlil Gibran

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.
Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.
But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows — then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky — then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

Facade: “an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality

Soul: “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal

Kahlil Gibran, through his poem “On Reason and Passion,” has revealed the most important misconception I have in regards to how I conduct myself. It was not until after reading this poem that I recognized my greatest weakness, my facade – that which I initially thought of as my greatest strength. Passion and reason are often seen to be in opposition, the union of two exceedingly unalike concepts as simply unreasonable. However, as evident through “On Reason and Passion,” the dissociation between the two only creates more disarray in one’s self than if both passion and reason are treated with equal importance.

I pride myself in being pragmatic, disciplined, and aware, the culmination of that which I believe to be reason,  yet I restrain the passion, or emotion, that I so freely disregard as a sign of weakness – the hypocrisy of doing so unveiled to me through Gibran’s “On Reason and Passion.” In other words, the reason and awareness to which I devoted myself to had caused me to falsely believe that any emotion was irrational – in my mind, the possibility of embracing both concepts was absurd, it was a matter of one or the other. However, the suppression of my passion only waged an internal war upon my soul. My sense of awareness was cut short in that I was overly aware of myself mentally, though not emotionally. I ended up lacking in experiences in the present, always concerned with the future and outcomes I wished to achieve through a disciplined approach that rarely involved just living in the moment. The presence and dominance of reason in my outwardly expressions of self became my facade, that which I depended on to convince myself that “unattended passion”  (as if it were not plausible that one live in harmony with both reason and passion) would only hinder my judgment and opportunities to grow into the individual I strived to be, effectively stripping me of living my life to the fullest extent.

It is for these reasons that my heart, soul, and facade are reflected in each stanza of the poem – it has taught me about myself and allowed me to, in turn, develop myself.

Reason, when “ruling alone,” confines, as I have seen in my own experiences, and passion “unattended” destroys, however, the incorporation  of both in one’s life is essential if one is to be at peace,”the lovers of all your elements.” Through likening reason and passion to the “rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul,” Gibran showcases the necessity of both reason and passion in an individual’s life – one will “but toss and drift” without the use of both the rudder and sails, the utilization of the two fundamental to a fully functioning, peaceful soul. It is as a result of this analogy that I now attempt to live my life accordingly, the extent to which I was affected by this shown through my first blog this year and my first blog last year, in which I reflected on knowledge and how it is not merely retaining knowledge, but also the application of that knowledge and a general mental awareness. This blog, however, is about my lack of awareness emotionally, and how I wish to appreciate my emotional awareness as much as I do with reason.

Moreover, using nature, or pathetic fallacy, to express reason and passion, Gibran associates reason with silence and passion with awe. It is through this that one can infer that reason directs passion, or that which causes actions – “the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,” but it is first through recognizing the “peace and serenity  of the distant fields and meadows,” the silence, that one can appreciate the awe of passion, within reason and silence. Thus, one must “rest in reason and move in passion,” letting the judgment of one’s mental dictate the extent to which the flame of one’s passion burns. “[L]et your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion,” and, subsequently, “let it direct your passion with reason.”

Evidently, “On Reason and Passion” has deeply impacted me, to the extent that I have recognized my greatest flaws through my facade, which, as initially stated, was “maintained to conceal a…less credible reality” – the fact that I was wrongly suppressing my passions.


Ergo, it is in the heart that both passion and reason originate, yet it is in the soul that both have the capacity to live in “oneness and melody.” The “discord…of elements” experienced in the partition between my facade of reason and my soul of quelled passion has the capacity to be resurrected and  synthesized, “and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes,” should I choose to “rest in reason and move in passion.”
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “The Portrait of… Part V: “On Reason and Passion”

  1. Dear Shyla,

    This piece as a whole was truly inspiring, thought provoking, and beautifully written. After watching your presentation today, I was able to further understand this piece as well as get to know about you more as a person. In a very tasteful way, you were able to describe how reason and passion work hand in hand together, “Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.” The structure and style of your writing is so fluent it enticed and took me on your journey of self-development and realization.

    As for improvement, I just have a question. For your second line,
    “Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.”
    Is the “would” a stylistic choice? When I first read that sentence I thought you had accidentally typed “would” instead of “with” and so it seemed a bit out of place, but I can also see how the “would” could work if it’s read in a certain way.

    Thank you for sharing your great wisdom on the blog, I have not only learned so many things just from this one piece, but have also been inspired to find my own truth.


  2. Dear Shyla,

    Just as your words described in your presentation, I simply knew your blog would be incredible. Your way with words is so philosophical, and I know for a fact that I myself am fascinated by your writing. As an aspiring philosopher, I found your worldview to be immensely insightful. I got to know you so much through this blog, and you truly spoke through your soul on this one. “It was not until after reading this poem that I recognized my greatest weakness, my facade – that which I initially thought of as my greatest strength. ” I felt myself deeply connected to this quote, as I too have felt that my facade benefited me in every way. but I did not know that it was only hurting me, and preventing me from living a good life. I would say, be the wonderful human being you are, and embrace your soul!

    As for something to watch out for, I would just be careful of the formatting on this piece. It seemed to me like a formal essay with its own assigned template. However, I do believe your words are absolutely brilliant, and I want to see you spread them out in a creative way. That is why I believe language is so beautiful. You can take the most beautiful sentences, and make them even stronger by presenting them in different ways. For instance, you referred to Gibran so much, I wanted to hear more Shyla, and some personal experiences. So, I want you to really make this your own, and have fun with it!

    Shyla, this was a beautiful blog filled with deep and meaningful words of wisdom. I wanted to start a discussion by asking a question: since you discussed your past and your soul on that wonderful presentation, where will you go from t here? What’s the next step to finding that peace and balance between your two conflicting worlds?
    I look forward to your response, and I am so excited to see more of you and your wonderful writing!

    Much love and gratitude,


  3. Dear Faith,

    Thank you so much for your comment! I am so glad that you enjoyed this blog.

    As for you suggestion, reading Gibran’s poem again, I do see how the second line could sound a little bit awkward, although I feel that he is almost asking us a question in a rhetorical sense. I took it as a subtle way of proving that Gibran would be the peacemaker of the soul, though only if the soul’s owner is willing and ready to be their own peacemaker first.

    Thanks again!


  4. Dear Tim,

    Thank you! Your blog and presentation were wonderful as well – don’t give up on finding your soul, I have a feeling that being in this class will help you as it has helped me.

    I have struggled with formatting for a long time, so thank you for reminding me to improve it. I do tend to take a more critical approach to things and, as a result, lose my own voice within my analysis. In future personal blogs, I will work on putting more of myself and my experiences in them,

    In regards to your question, I am trying to direct my passion with reason. I truly value the “reason” portion of myself, and would never get rid of it, I am just working on embracing my “passion” with as much importance as I give to reason. In doing so, I believe my life will be so much more balanced. As you said in your presentation, I want to live, not just exist, and reason alone confines.

    Thanks for the comment!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *