DEVOTION – THE ART OF KNOWING GOD
Why do you have to search elsewhere when you are doing devotion to God? Kabir Saheb explained that everything that you search for in this universe is already contained in you, and many philosophers and religious people say that we are the microcosm of the macrocosm. Microcosm means a universe on a smaller scale containing everything that the macrocosm has. The same elements, the same energy, the same thought, the same intelligence and everything else that God used to create the whole universe, He used to create us. We are made of earth, water, fire, air and ether (prithivi, jal, agni, vayu, akash). The famous astronomer, Carl Sagan, said, “We are made of star stuff.” When you are, therefore, on a mystical path, you understand that God is in you, and everything that is outside of you is within you, because God that is outside is also within. Kabir Saheb said: “Where do you go and search for me brother, I am already with you.” Kabir Saheb has explained many times that you need to find God within. We can spend our whole life in going to all the holy places of pilgrimages – Kashi, Mathura, Ayodhya, Garh Girnar, Rameshwar, Jagdish, Dwaraka and in the west we go to the holy river Jordan, to Lake Galilee, to Sinai, etc., yet we do not find God. We return home and we are the same as before, because nothing has really changed, except that our bank balances have been reduced, and we have a memory of our pilgrimage. We settle down to the same life as before, pursuing all the material goals. We have not made a basic spiritual change in our personality.
What do people gain by doing various observances? People have a longing to attain God realization. People feel that there is more to life than just working, eating and raising a family and doing material things. That is why they are searching for that greater answer in life, but Kabir Saheb said that that answer lies within you. You cannot find anything outside that is going to give you that satisfaction, that eternal knowledge, that peace and bliss for which you are searching, but you will find them within yourself. Kabir Saheb has many sakhis that explain similar thoughts. In one such sakhi he said: kami krodhi lalachi in se bhakti na hoi, bhakti karai koi surama jat baran kul khoi. (Lustful, angry, and greedy people cannot do devotion; only a brave person without pride for his clan, caste and family lineage can do devotion). Let us try to understand this sakhi. The average person practicing his religious life is not likely free of these negative qualities. He has to follow those traditions or rules, or else he becomes an outcaste from his own caste and religion. Who is a kami? Kami is a person who is driven by desires, lust and passions. Lust for money, sex, fame and honour, and desires for various things. Who in this world is free of desires? Although they say that they are religious people, and they go to temples and do their devotion, can they truly say that they are free of the above qualities? How many people in the world can be free of anger? In the home there is often anger between husband and wife, between parents and children, between in-laws, between neighbours, between countries, and between political parties. You are hearing about them everyday, such as the killing, shooting, maiming, violation of human rights, etc. Kabir Saheb said that those people who are krodhi cannot do bhakti. How can they when their minds are not filled with God, but filled with anger and passions, hate and greed? He said that the person who is lalachi cannot do devotion either. Who in this world is totally free of greed, of wanting more, and longing for something? They try to keep up with the Jones’. They see something beautiful and they want that. They taste good food here, they want to go and taste it there. They see a nice piece of clothing and they want to get that. They see so much money earned by someone, and they want that. Kabir Saheb said, dekh parai chupadi mat lalchao ji… do not crave for what others have. So if people are full of lalach for something that is material, or immaterial such as for fame, honor, prestige and glory, they cannot be devotees. Kabir Saheb said, bhakti karai koi surama, jat varan kul khoi. Surama – the brave person, only he or she can do devotion. Brave in what? Not brave in war but brave in one’s own self. Brave in the knowledge that God is within. Brave in tolerating the criticisms of others, without fighting back. You deviate from your usual path and see how many people will try to correct you or criticize you, and tell you that you are doing the wrong thing. But you cannot do devotion in that way. That is the way that leads you to a blind end. You are following tradition of the family, caste and race, and you are not elevating yourself through gyan (knowledge) to see that what you are doing is not getting you to the right place. Kabir Saheb said that you have to be brave to accept the criticisms and cutting remarks of others. Brave to show them that you can be on the path to God, no matter what they say. If you cannot be brave and follow your true spiritual instincts, then you are fooling yourself. You then become a hypocrite. Kabir Saheb said many times that you should not be a hypocrite. There are many hypocrites preaching and practicing religion. Many do it for outward show and to satisfy their ego. He said, “the rosary moves in the hand and the tongue moves in the mouth uttering prayers; but all the while the mind moves in all directions; that is not prayer.
Kabir Saheb said that God created every body as human beings, endowed with the same potentials, aspirations and basic needs. Why should people then create artificial divisions according to caste, colour, clan, creed and religion? The truly spiritual person, doing meaningful devotion, must rise above these barriers, which serve only to decrease, rather than to increase, our humanity and spirituality.
Dr. Jagessar Das