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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 towel rope either and no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no fort. And there is no body, and no mind.
Do you believe that 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.
~ Guru Kabir Sahib
Question: Acharya Ji, the thirst of the soul cannot be quenched by anyone. True. Yet there is hope, and longing for God. What does Kabir Sahib mean by – “Enter into your own body. Don’t go off somewhere else”?
Acharya Prashant Ji: 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 were thirsty at all. Who is the one who is thirsty? What exactly is the definition of this ‘thirst’? That is 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, what one is 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 – “C’mon. Do something. Something is not right.” So, what to you do? You do, what you can do. And, what the man can do? Run around. So man starts running around.
That is what comes to man, as a nature of his build up.
What does not instinctively come to man, is the realisation 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 first not understand the problem. Before I say, that 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 desires are ‘yours’. Right? It is not merely a desire. It is ‘your’ desire. Fine. Let us 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, and at any time.” How do you know? How do you know Parmeshwari (the questioner)? 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 by anybody, anywhere, and at anytime?
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 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 sat samundar (Inside the body are seven seas).” ‘Ghat’ is his preferred word for the body. If you can know what this thirst is, you are already quenched.
Paanchee uda gagan ko, dhad rahaa pardes.
Pani peeve chonch bin, bhool gayaa va dees.
The swan flew up the unknown skies, free from her gross form.
Beak-less, she drank water there, forgetting her earthly home.
~ Guru Kabir Sahab
Question 2: What does Kabir Sahib mean by – “The swan losing the gross form, and drinking the water beakless, flewing up the unknown skies”?
Acharya Ji: 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 is 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 is where, you will drink, without the body. There is a water, that is for the body. There is a water, that is drank through the beak. There is a water that is drank though the body, and for the body. And there is the water that is drank without the beak. It is heavenly water. It is the water of the skies.”
There is a water of the earth, that can placate at most 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.
Questioner 3: Acharya Ji, Guru Kabir Sahab says in a poem, “Pee le pyala, O matwala (Being in Love, drink the heavenly nectar of Lord’s name).”
(Acharya Ji humming the song, “Pee le pyala, O matwala (Being in Love, drink the heavenly nectar of Lord’s name).”
Acharya Ji: There is the pyaala(bowl) of the earth. There are the earthly taverns, which simply inebriate you. And then there is the pyaala 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. Already. Have they sufficed? Learn at least from your experience, if not from the words of the saints.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Searching for the beloved?||Acharya Prashant, on Guru Kabir (2018)
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