“It is… an unseen habit to fear any alternative to what we have become accustomed, what we call normal. Our habits combined with a fear of the unknown literally consist of less matter than a silken thread. Still something of less substance than a strand of silk can bind us, if we believe it. The strength of our own imagination is the real binding force when the chains consist of nothing else.”
When facing deaths heartbreak, we realize hidden values. Death debases pettiness and brings out what we may habitually overlook. Death makes us more conscious. I met this relentless teacher before my 10th birthday, an accident killed my, 19-year-old sister. A daily routine and habitual expectations, make it easy to take people for granted. Let’s not miss someone worthwhile, only to realize their importance when they’re gone. Tomorrow’s don’t exist in endless supply. I felt closer to my sister than any other and on one occasion, I withheld affection to punish her. You see, like any loving older sister, when she found out I smoked cigarettes, she told our parents and I felt betrayed. When she left, I refused to speak to her, vindictively relishing how sorry she would be. I turned my back on her and with anger I un-truthfully said, “I never want to see you again.” And I never did… Read More at Street Articles
“One way a hunter can trap a monkey is to secure a gourd to a tree and then place
something sweet or shiny in the gourd while a monkey watches, then the hunter leaves. The poor monkey just cannot stand not possessing the bait and will reach into the gourd and grasp it, but as his fist closes around the bait it becomes too big to remove it from the opening of the gourd and he is trapped. The monkey could have his freedom if he would let go but he will not. When the hunter comes, the monkey will freak out and screech but still he will not let go. Thus, the slaughter of the monkey.
…The hunter is karma, the gourd is like the events of life, the monkey is the mind, the grasped object is ‘identity’ and the grasping is desire. When we identify [ourselves] with events, experiences, and thought then we are no different than this monkey.”
There is nothing but water at the holy bathing places; and I know that they are useless, for I have bathed in them.
The images [gods] are all lifeless, they cannot speak; I know, for I have cried aloud to them.
The Purana and the Koran are mere words; lifting up the curtain, I have seen.
Kabîr gives utterance to the words of experience; and he knows very well that all other things are un- true.
“Many people would call the above verse intolerant, but Kabir neither persecuted nor limits anyone’s choices. Do not confuse criticism with oppression. To challenge a belief by demonstrating a reason to think it false shows concern for others. Controversy is a difficult matter when one is in an extreme minority. Kabir expended the effort to help others in spite of the fact that the exertion did not raise him financially. His prose invites observation in judging beliefs. We can misunderstand facts, but, if we wish to challenge our ideas beyond verbal scrutiny, then experience will show us what is untrue through trial and error.
We have a sacred tool called experimentation and this long dead poet dares us to test our ideas. Furthermore, Kabir spoke this statement approximately three centuries before David Hume insisted experience was a formidable challenge to beliefs. Hume had the advantage of education; he learned the best scientific and logical methods of his time. Similar learning was not available to a poor weaver in 15th century India. Kabir grasped the argument he used intuitively. To cultivate such reason, almost completely alone, and against the popular ideas of his day tells us a lot about the integrity and capacity of this poet.”
A chapter In the book, Scrutinizing Religion, I devoted solely to the poems of Kabir that fault religion. Some people only meet a ‘whitewashed’ Kabir. After his death, the religions he criticised appropriated his words. I felt surprise when the largest supporter of this book, Chandra Kotaru, learned of Kabir as a school boy but did NOT know of the more daring poems. If we only hear of Kabir as a ‘saint,’ then to meet his criticism of saints is a shock. This is one reason I took four translations and collated sceptical examples in one chapter. If we dilute our wisest benefactors from the past, we rob living generations of the inheritance these brave souls left as treasure for us all! Kabir is not the only poet to suffer this fate. Greeting cards and calendars quote the beloved Rumi but his poems involving sex seem curiously and often absent. To castrate the most intelligent is a vulgar crime that usually goes unpunished. The wonderful book Delicious Laughter by Coleman Barks is one of the books that corrects the lie of omission often done to Jelaluddin Rumi.
Let’s look at both monogamy and commitment with fresh eyes and consider five reasons to question both cultural ideas.
Let’s not oversimplify the deceit exemplified by Ashley Madison. Widespread cheating suggests sexual impulses exist beyond monogamy.
Many arguments against freer sexuality provoke fear and even persecution exemplified in slut shaming, honor killings and LGBT harassment.
The discovery of trial and error expands our choices. Discovery also exposes our mistakes.
For example, discovering what sex will not do liberates us from our imagination.
I treat lovers as friends—this word means nothing without freedom.
My friends come and go, make love with whoever they wish and speak their minds. If their pursuits separate us, their happiness is still precious. A friendship doesn’t require our desires to be always in harmony. I live in such friendships whether or not the relationship involves sex. Read More… go to Elephant Journal
An article by Todd Vickers published at Street Articles.
Faulty beliefs lay dormant in our minds like a Trojan horse, perhaps a prejudice about ourselves or the world. It’s harder to expose the faults of a belief when the people around us also hold the same belief. Unfortunately, we are not lucky enough to discover all false or bad beliefs by ourselves. History affords us many tragedies with roots in deeply held beliefs. Let’s not ignore them and throw away precious lessons perhaps acquired by our ancestors through painful trials.
When calling into question spiritual beliefs, it’s easy to hurt people’s feelings, especially if the beliefs provide comfort, prestige or something held valuable to the one who believes. Yet, painful feelings are not an argument… Read More
We conjure our tomorrows as if the future is bound to our concepts. We may say “no person knows everything,” but, still, we coddle our hubris by measuring all things by what we know. This arrogance is why entirely new things can seem familiar. By ignoring facts and reasons contrary to our beliefs, we invite life experiences to rip faulty beliefs from our terrified grasp when we could have let those beliefs go, just as we do with dreams in the morning.
“If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it;
for it is hard to be sought out…” vii Heraclitus
Presuming to know is different from trial and error. Generalizing is not bad, but we tend to treat our schemes as facts. In any group of people, unfounded beliefs pose great peril when the popularity of an idea takes the place of proof. For example, the delusional thinking of Americans imagining an imminent threat brought about a preemptive war and a river of bloodshed.
Excerpt: The Relevance of Kabir
We make judgments daily. It’s best to improve when we can because we not only pay a price when we suffer. Beautiful things this world truly offers may elude us as we linger in the graveyard of our preconceived ideas.
vii John Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy (London: A. and C. Black, 1892), 134.
The Relevance of Kabir is also book about relationships. It takes many examples from real life relationships to point out the misery causing habits of mind. Here is an excerpt.
“He [Kabir] does not say that spiritual seekers or ascetics will comprehend his meaning, but notes that lovers will. Our poet wants us to have the experience of being in love as a step toward greater liberation. Lovers mistake the dissolving of the ego in orgasm to be only part of orgasm when it results from arresting habits of mind. If we can’t let go of our self, orgasm becomes difficult. In the ecstasy of love, the mental specter of our self becomes unsustainable. We live without a story for a few moments. If we need others to see beyond our ideas of ourselves, then possessiveness haunts us. We become a burden to others and limit our choices by reducing people into nothing more than a means. When we use people, we probably destroy or limit our affections in the process. Emancipate others from being just a prop in a cerebral autobiography.”
First download your copy of The Relevance of Kabir on your Android phone.
Go to the Google Play store and grab this app
On the bottom click the arrow and expand the voice control menu.
Then click the change voice or language button in the top middle of the menu and configure your text to speach (TTS) settings to Google.
Brows the files on your phone and find The Relevance of Kabir.
Select the PDF and push play. You can adjust the speed to your liking on the voice control menu.
A man with a bucket of grain can lead a bull to slaughter, but, at least, the oats are objectively real. People can pursue both attainable things like a new car, a lover or money. Moreover, we can also chase concepts, pure abstractions even when they are untrue.