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Searching for the beloved? || Acharya Prashant, on Guru Kabir (2018)

Author Acharya Prashant

Acharya Prashant

7 min
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I said to the wanting creature inside me: What is this river you want to cross? There are no travelers on the river road, and no road. Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or nesting? There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman. There is no tow rope either, and 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. Think about it carefully! Don’t go off somewhere else!

~ Kabir

Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, the thirst of the soul cannot be quenched by anyone, anywhere, at any time, and yet there is hope and longing for God. What does Kabir Sahib mean when he says, “Enter into your own body” and “Don’t go off somewhere else”?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Who is thirsty? The bodied one is thirsty. Before you look around to quench your thirst, it is important to understand the nature of this thirst; it is important to go within yourself and know why you are thirsty at all. Who is the one who is thirsty? What exactly is the definition of this thirst? That’s what Kabir Sahib is saying.

Thirst overwhelms; it simply takes over your mind. One starts panicking; one feels a strong urge to act because one is thirsty. Something has to be done. And what can one do? One does what one is trained to do, conditioned to do: one starts running. Where? In the world, towards the world. So, something arises within; it’s a sensation of insufficiency, it’s a sensation of discomfort, it’s a sensation of unrest. The sensation implies, “Come on, do something! Something is not right!” So, what do you do? You do what you can do. What can man do? Run around.

So, man starts running around; that is what comes to man as a nature of his buildup. What does not instinctively come to man is the realization that it is first of all important to ask, “What is this thirst? What do I want? Before I ask for a solution, should I not first understand the problem? Before I say, ‘This is what I want and this is how I want to get it,’ should I not first ask who am I?”

Saints have always asked you to look at yourself. All your desires are yours, right? It is not merely a desire; it is your desire. Fine, let’s fulfill the desire, but let’s at least know what we want. Even when you go to a shopkeeper, you have to tell him what you want; no shopkeeper will tell you what you want. And if a shopkeeper succeeds in telling you what you want, he is surely fooling you.

You have to know what you want. Saints are forever encouraging you to see from where you are making your statements. See what you have written here: “Acharya Ji, the thirst of the soul cannot be quenched by anyone, anywhere, at any time.” How do you know? At most you can say that for you the thirst has not been quenched so far. But how are you asserting that it cannot be quenched at all by anybody, anywhere, at any time?

That is what is meant by going into oneself—seeing the structure of one’s mind; seeing how things happen there; seeing how hope arises; seeing how fear arises; seeing how the mind concludes; seeing how one quickly gets hurt; seeing how demands and insecurities are deeply related; seeing how that which one very dearly wants is exactly what one must staunchly avoid; seeing how that which you want to clutch is lost exactly because you clutch it. All these things are happening constantly, and they are happening with you. Aren’t you in a great position to see that these things are happening?

Kabir Sahib is saying, “Go within yourself; enter into your own body. Ya ghat bheetar saat samundar (Everything is within this body).” Ghat is his preferred word for the body.

If you can know what this thirst is, you are already quenched.

Q: Kabir says:

Panchi uda gagan ko, dhad raha pardes; pani peeve chonch bin, bhool gaya va des (The swan flew up the unknown skies, free from her gross form; beakless, she drank the water there, forgetting her earthly home).”

What does Kabir Sahib mean by the swan losing the gross form and drinking water from the unknown skies without a beak?

AP: You think you belong to the earth, and as long as you are the body, you are right in what you think. Yes, the body belongs to the earth, but that’s not where your thirst would be quenched.

Kabir Sahib is saying, “Let the body belong to the earth; you fly up to the sky. That’s where you will drink without the body.”

There is a water that is for the body, that is drunk through the beak. There is a water that is drunk through the body; it is for the body. And there is a water that is drunk without the beak; it is the heavenly water, it is the water of the skies. There is the water of the earth that can at most placate the body—the body is thirsty, the water of the earth helps—but you are not the body, and therefore the water of the earth will not suffice for you; you need some other water.

So, let the one who is really thirsty fly over up to the skies, and there he shall be really quenched. Once you are there, you will forget all about the earthly pleasures and attachments. The body will still remain on the earth, but you will remain with your Beloved. And that’s the way of living. Let the body belong to the earth; you stay belonging to your Beloved.

Q: Kabir says:

Peele pyala, ho matwala; pyala naam amiras ka re (Being in love, drink the heavenly nectar of Lord’s name).”

What does this mean?

AP: Peele pyala, ho matwala . There is the pyala (nectar) of the earth, there are the earthly taverns which simply inebriate you, and then there is the pyala of the skies, which brings you back to awareness. That is what Kabir Sahib is advising you to drink. Drink the heavenly nectar. The earthly juices you have had enough of already. Have they sufficed? Learn at least from your experience, if not from the words of the saints.

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