I said to the wanting-creature inside me:
What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travellers on the river-road, there is no road.
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or nesting?
There is no river at all, no boat, no boatman.
There is no tow rope, there’s no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!
And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the soul less thirsty?
In that great absence you will find nothing.
Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
There, you have a solid place for your feet.
Consider it well,
Go not elsewhere!
Kabir says this: Throw off all thoughts of imaginary things,
And stand firm in that which you are.
Who was Kabir?
Kabir is regarded as one of the most interesting of the Indian mystics. Born around 1440 to Mohammedan parents, he became a disciple of the Hindu ascetic, Rãmānanda. Rãmānanda’s dream was to reconcile the spiritual disparaties between Hinduism and the Mohammedan sects, and Kabir, through requesting to become his disciple, actually embodied this vision. The mystic is blessed with being able to communicate the undefinable state of spiritual illumination to the common man, and Kabir’s chosen form of expression was through music and poetry. Celebrating absolute union with divine consciousness, his songs transcend religious definitions and categories, and speak instead of a unified metaphysical reality.
Kabir was a reformer and a revolutionary. Renouncing the bodily mortifications and solitary life typical of religious ascetics in the middle ages, he lived a full, wordly life. Kabir was a married man, a father, and a craftsman. He made his living as a weaver. Many of his poems testify that the glory of the Divine is present in the most mundane of activities or objects. Others warn against the futileness of striving for union with God through the collection of spiritual paraphernalia and through indulging in esoteric practices.
His outspokeness in these matters didn’t win him friends amongst the established religious traditions. Around 1495, in the name of preservation of the peace, he was banished from Benares, where he’d lived all his life. Kabir died in 1518, after spending the last years of his life with his disciples in the cities of northern India.
On his death, the story goes, his Mohammedan and Hindu disciples argued over how to dispose of the body. The Mohammedans wanted to bury it, but the Hindus wanted to burn. Kabir appeared to them, and told them to go and look under the shroud. Lifting the cloth, instead of a corpse, they found flowers. Half, then, were buried at Maghar, and half were burnt at Benares.
The biographical information of Kabir is taken from Evelyn Underhill’s introduction to Songs of Kabir, translated by Rabindranath Tagore.
The poem above is a translation from another source, not Tagore’s – but I don’t know where it originates. If anyone knows, please share. To the translation above, I made a couple of wee adjustments which, to my mind, helps it flow.
I love this poem for it’s teaching of Mindfulness: that Spirit, however you might perceive it, is not out there, somewhere, but is found in the present moment. The here-and-now cannot be experienced through the movements of the mind which dart compulsively between past and future, but is found directly through the experiences and sensations of the body.
Download the Free Printable of the poem so you can read it away from the screen.
In a Contemplative Mood?
Healing and the Art of Self Acceptance – “There’s a dark, negative energy in this place of blame and anger. So when, unexpectedly, our scrolling fingers land us on the right webpage and something lights up and goes ‘Ping!’, we are catapulted to a plane of courage and self-responsibility, and this higher state feels like heaven. We’re in the company of angels, and they promise to hold us warm in their wings.”
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, with a Free Printable – “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there is in silence…”
Why You’ll Never Kill the Sugar Dragon – “Our nature is not the problem. It is culture which has blown the situation out of control. Sweetness was once harvested from fruit or from vine in accordance with the seasons. But now, once weaned from Mother’s milk, sweetness becomes the basis of reward. A little treat here, a little promise there. It is so good. And emotionally it translates as, ‘I am good.’ I am loved. I am worthy. It must be so hard to have children, and to raise them so that nature’s gentle river of sweetness doesn’t become a flood.”
I hope this post helped you to slow down for a minute or two, and contemplate. Remember, Paleo is not just about the food and exercise – it’s also very much about de-stressing, unwinding, relaxing and sleeping. If you’re new to Meditation, this 5 Minute Meditation Practice for Beginners is a great place to start.
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