Roger Housden sent me this poem today. He says: “that Kabir reminds us that it is so easy, and without even being aware of it, to slip into living life as if it were a rehearsal for the real thing. If you are able to take Kabir’s words to heart, you may feel the shock of living now. The truest life – the most passionately lived life – is one in which the gate of the heart is open wide to receive . . . to receive what, who? To receive the Guest, Kabir says. And who is the Guest? What does he or she look like? In the monasteries dedicated to Kabir’s teachings, in India, there are no sculptures of deities, no idols to be worshipped, no devotions to be performed. In the center of the monastery there is an open space with an empty plinth. For Kabir, God cannot be confined to religion, to form, or to name. The Guest is a general term that each of us can fill in as we wish. To stand in that openness is not only possible now, it is for Kabir an imperative. Salvation is not to be found after death; it does not require any belief, but it does demand that you fall down into the well of the heart. It demands that you leave behind your thoughts about your experience, and jump into the experience of living itself.”
I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we live in anticipation of an after-life with hopes that all we want and wish for may reside there. The trick is to find it now as both Roger and Kabir advise. In the here and now, and to break those ropes, even if only one. The poem also reminds me of the ‘Eternal Occurence’ by Nietzsche which is a scary one to read but that’s a story for another day.
Here is Kabir’s poem that I share with you:
The Time Before Death
(Version by Robert Bly)
Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think . . . and think . . . while you are alive.
What you call “salvation” belongs to the time
If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,
Do you think
Ghosts will do it after?
The idea that the soul will rejoin with the ecstatic
Just because the body is rotten –
That is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
You will simply end up with an apartment in the
City of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next
Life you will have the face of satisfied desire.
So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
Believe in the Great Sound!
Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
It is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that
Does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.