(Painting by Tanya Bonello)
“Lift the veil that obscures the heart
and there you will find what you are looking for.”
Little is known about Kabir. Legends abound and certainties are scarce. He was a weaver, probably spending most of his time working at his handloom. He was born in a Muslim family in fifteenth Century Benares, and became a mystic and a poet whose songs and ‘bānīs’ – meaning ’utterances’ – spread in the whole of India and beyond, mostly handed down orally between seekers and sadhus along the roads, sometimes written down. They were the expression of a simple man, probably illiterate, and his first-hand understanding of the deepest truth of living.
Kabir wasn’t a philosopher, far from it, and many of his poems were deeply grounded in everyday life. His expression was often ruthless, “I see the world. What a bag of tricks it is!” He execrated the bigotry and hypocrisy of Hindu and Muslim devotees alike, and he never tired of denouncing the contradictions between the religions in place, each asserting their own god, beliefs, practices, about something Kabir knew in his flesh and soul to be one single reality, unbroken, and timeless.
“Servant, where dost thou seek Me?
Lo! I am beside thee.
I am neither in temple nor in mosque:
I am neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash:
Neither am I in rites and ceremonies,
nor in Yoga and renunciation.
If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at once see Me:
thou shalt meet Me in a moment of time.
Kabir says, ‘O Sadhu! God is the breath of all breath.’”
Discover more of the wonderful poetry and legacy of Kabir (Read more…)
“Don’t forget love;
it will bring all the madness you need
to unfurl yourself across the universe.”
~ Meera Bai (1498-1546)
I intend here to continue exploring the three different pathways towards realising our true nature. I have some time ago given my attention to Jñāna, which in the Indian tradition is the name given to the means of attaining truth through the investigative qualities of the mind, which are mostly thinking and the power of discrimination. The two other paths towards realisation are the tantric path, which involves the senses, and the path of love, which involves feeling, and is the subject of this essay.
The path of knowledge requires a certain steadiness, orderliness, being thorough, constant. But even somebody set on this logical path of knowledge will be exposed to ineffable, timeless moments of pure love. Some people are best suited to a more loving, encompassing pathway, that would allow them to be just as they are, with all their confusion and overwhelming feelings. I can be the me that I am, as long as I am too this loving, embracing presence to which I can offer myself. In love there is no theory, no guidelines to follow. And it is not a surprise to find this expression of truth as one of the means to the realisation of our true self. This pathway of love has been called ‘Bhakti’ in the tradition of India. All the Indian faith, at least in its more popular expression, is of a devotional nature, and has elevated this simple love for god or truth to the rank of art. That seemed to me a good starting point to embark on this path of devotion, which the Śivānanda Laharī (verse 61) describes as: “The way needle seeks magnet, the way creeper seeks tree, the way river unites with ocean and the way the mind seeks the lotus feet of Śiva.”
An exploration into Bhakti, the path of love and devotion (READ MORE…)