Kabir’s Guest

I came across this marvelous poem in  Poem For the Day edited by Nicholas Albery. I particularly like the lines, ‘The idea that the soul. . .that is all fantasy!’ The followers of Kabir live quiet unobtrusive lives; they are sometimes compared to Quakers for their opposition to war and contemplative outlook.  I understand the line, ‘What is found now is found then.’ to mean that we can be in tune with our deeper selves in this life and if we make that our touchstone death can be faced with equanimity. It’s similar to the Buddhist idea that we can never ‘lose’ our Buddha Nature.


To be a Slave of Intensity

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 before death.
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 join 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.


Translated by Robert Bly


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